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The Hope of Christmas.  Isaiah 9.2; Mathew 1.22-23
Nov. 27, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to worship: “Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.” “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.” Psalm 89:8, 15 (NIV).

          We have been looking at Hebrews chapter 11, and some of the heroes of the faith highlighted there.  Their faith and trust that God would keep His promises to them and their descendants guided their choices during dark difficult times.  Hebrews 11:1-2 explains faith in our God this way: 1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.” Hebrews 11:1–2 (NIV).  The Apostle Paul reminds us of the importance of studying the scriptures in Romans 15:4 “4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” (NIV).

      Our faith, our hope is not based on wishful thinking, rather it is based on the assurance that our God does not lie and has the power to do what He says.  When He says He will do something, it comes to pass.  Hebrews 11 reviews the faith of the ancients who were commended by God for their faith.  They believed God could act without having to see it happen in their lifetime, and they passed on the promises to their children as blessings. 

      As we heard earlier, the first candle of Advent represents hope.  There is a lot of hope present around the Christmas season.  Children may spend some serious thought making a list of what gifts they hope to get at Christmas.  Adults hope for their family’s happiness and also for some peace –within themselves and among their family and friends.

      However, the reason Christmas is a time of hope is because of Jesus the Christ.  His birth was the fulfillment of many prophecies and the confirmation of more fulfillments to come!  The song, “O come, O come Immanuel” summaries Israel’s hope as they waited for God to fulfill His promise to send Messiah, the anointed one, Emmanuel.  The prophet Isaiah was called by God to speak during some very dark days in the history of Judea and Israel.  The people of Israel had turned their hearts from the Lord God to consult mediums & spirits (Isa. 8:19) and Assyria would be God’s instrument of judgment.  Yet God’s judgment would pass and in the future the Lord God offered the promise of hope in the midst of their darkness. 

      Listen to Isaiah 8:19-9:7 19 Someone may say to you, “Let’s ask the mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. With their whisperings and mutterings, they will tell us what to do.” But shouldn’t people ask God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead? 20 Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark. 21 They will go from one place to another, weary and hungry. And because they are hungry, they will rage and curse their king and their God. They will look up to heaven 22 and down at the earth, but wherever they look, there will be trouble and anguish and dark despair. They will be thrown out into the darkness.

      1 Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. 2 The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. 3 You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. 4 For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. 5 The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire. 6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” Isaiah 8:19–9:7 (NLT).

      This passage makes two things clear. The darkness engulfing Israel was due to sin and corruption.  Yet there is still hope, because of God’s promise – the coming of a child, no ordinary child, will be as light dawning after a dark night.  This child, the Messiah who would reign on David’s throne forever, was watched for, longed for and hoped for, because the Lord God had not forgotten them!

      Matthew’s Gospel saw in the birth of Jesus, the fulfillment of God’s promises, including those from Isaiah.  18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. 20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: 23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”” Matthew 1:18–23 (NLT).

      The child would be named Immanuel, meaning “God with us.”  Jesus would be the fulfillment of Israel’s hope that God would send light into the darkness of this world.  One of the reasons Christmas resonates in our hearts is because we also live in a world which is dark and corrupted by sin.  Violence, deceit and pain is all around us.  Christmas reminds us that those things we hope for: healing, restoration, forgiveness and a fresh start are available to us now through Immanuel, God.  This hope is not the result of the absence of conflict, difficulty, struggle or trial, rather it is due to the presence of the living God within us.

      One lesson we learn from Hebrews chapter 11 is that hope can take time to be fulfilled, and therefore requires patience.  Isaiah saw that one day in the future, God would bring a great light and salvation through the birth of a child.  It was not until hundreds of years later that Matthew recorded Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.  Matthew saw Jesus’ Galilee focused ministry as a fulfillment of Isaiah 9:2. 12 When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee. 13 He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah: 15 “In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River, in Galilee where so many Gentiles live, 16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.”” Matthew 4:12–16 (NLT). Jesus also saw his ministry as a fulfillment of this prophecy as we see in John 8:12 12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”” John 8:12 (NLT).  Jesus is the very presence of God on earth.  He offers forgiveness of sin, destruction of evil, and the promise of eternal life.

      Advent is not only a celebration of Jesus’ birth but is also a reminded that we await Jesus’ second advent, his second coming.  May this hope encourage you to live your life ready for Jesus’ return, as you seek to honor him with your thoughts, actions and plans.

Closing hymn: #124 “Come thou long expected Jesus”

Benediction: 5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5–6 (NIV).

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Hebrews 11:23-29. Moses’ Faith in God.

Nov. 20, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

 

Call to Worship: I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.  I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:1–2 (NIV)

     We are continuing our look at examples of those who walked by faith as highlighted in Hebrews chapter 11. Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians who were questioning their decision to follow Jesus as their Messiah, had they made the right choice.  The writer of Hebrews wants to assure them that they have made the right choice and encourage them of the importance to live by faith.

     Today we are looking at verses 23-29 which focus on Moses.  Moses was considered the most important figure in Israel’s history. The book of Deuteronomy ends with this summary statement: “10 Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. 12 For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.Deuteronomy 34:10–12 (NIV).

     Judaism considered Moses their greatest prophet, he was the great lawgiver and Israel’s greatest historian (authoring Genesis to Deuteronomy). He was also Israel’s greatest deliverer, bringing Israel out from 400 years of slavery in Egypt. Because of Moses’ standing among the Old Testament figures, seeing that he lived by faith rather than adherence to the Law was a powerful argument to show the Jewish people that God’s way has always been the way of faith.  The writer to the Hebrews begins his look at Moses by reminding us that:

  1. Moses had a heritage of faith (vv. 23)

23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.Hebrews 11:23 (NIV).

     The faith of Moses begins with the faith of his parents. To stem the population explosion among the Hebrew slaves in Egypt the Pharaoh gave an edict that all male babies were to be drowned in the Nile. Amram and Jochebed felt lead by the Lord that their newborn son must be protected so they first hid him for three months (Ex 6:20).  Then put him in a water-proofed basket and placed him in the Nile near the place where the Pharaoh’s daughter bathed. Moses grew up knowing the faith his parents had exercised in the Lord had saved his life. 

     The parents of Moses were willing to risk their lives to follow God’s will. Their decision was clear: save the child, whatever the consequences. It was no light thing to defy the royal decree, but their faith drove out fear.  They placed him in a specially prepared basket and place him in the reeds by the bank of the river.  From a human perspective, his parents had no way of knowing that his life would be spared, much less that, for all purposes, he would be given back to them. Yet they willingly let him go, entrusting him to God.

     As we know, Pharaoh’s daughter “found” the baby Moses, adopted him as her own son, and even hired his own mother, Jochebed, to nurse and raise him. Scripture infers that she and Amram took care of him well past the age of weaning. They probably had him into the mid-childhood years — certainly long enough to firmly establish his Hebrew roots and teach him of the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.  Their patient instruction built a faithful son. The best thing in life that you can give your children is not possessions, not even an education, but to show them a life of faith, one that leads them to thirst to use their uniqueness to serve God.

Moses not only had a heritage of faith … but

  1. Moses, in faith chose to believe God’s plan (vv. 24-26)

24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.Hebrews 11:24–26 (NIV).

     There are three words in these verses that I want to pay special attention to, in verse twenty-four circle the word “refused.” The word literally means “to reject, to deny or to totally disown.” Next in verse twenty-five circle “he chose” this literally means “to select or decide.” And the finally circle “he regarded” in verse twenty-six, this means “to weigh in the balance, to evaluate the worth or to consider the value.”

     When Moses came of age, he faced a crucial decision. He had to decide whether to identify himself as an Egyptian with absolute loyalty or join himself with his enslaved people, the children of God. The deciding factor was his faith in God.

     Think about the immensity of his decision. It is hard enough for us to choose not to live for worldly things. It is harder yet to give them up when we have grownup with them. Moses, living as a son of Pharoah’s daughter had access to the best of Egypt.

     However, by the time he was forty, Moses had come to see that doing God’s will was of more value than Egypt’s riches. Moses realized the land of Egypt was not his home.  Faith in the Lord enabled him to see the sinful pleasures of Egypt for what they really were: a temporary source of pleasure that separates us from God and eventually leads to pain and death.  He believed that eternal riches in God are to be valued above what the world can offer.

Moses, Had the faith to believe God’s plans and…

  1. Moses in faith endured when he could not see. (v. 27)

27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.Hebrews 11:27 (NIV).

     Hebrews 11:27 reminds us of how this chapter started, verse 1: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (NIV) or as the NLT says: “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.Hebrews 11:1 (NLT).

      Moses did more than simply leave Egypt; he abandoned it, he turned his back on Egypt and its gods; all Egypt represented. He renounced it permanently. Like Peter, James and John in the New Testament (Luke 5:11) Moses left everything to follow the Lord.

Moses had the faith to endure when he could not see and…

  1. Moses in faith trusted God when he did not understand. (v. 28)

28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.Hebrews 11:28 (NIV).

     Next the author focuses our attention on the Israelites last night in Egypt. The tenth and last plague that God sent on Egypt was the death of the first-born living in the land (Ex 11:5).  The only hope of protection was to trust God’s instructions.  A lamb without blemish was to be slain, and its blood sprinkled on the doorpost of the house (Ex 12:7).  The lamb was to be eaten by the household that evening, yet each person was to dressed ready to leave.  They were to stay in the house while the angel of death passed through the land of Egypt.  Moses and his people had never done this before, yet they believed that God’s way to avoid death was the only way.  Moses also believed God’s promise of freedom and repeated God’s command that the Passover be an annual observation.

Moses had the faith to trust when he did not understand and…

  1. Moses in faith trusted God would save them. (v. 29)

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.Hebrews 11:29 (NIV).

     The story of the crossing of the Red Sea is told in Exodus 14. In obedience to the command of God, Moses led and the people followed. God performed a miracle in nature that enabled them to cross through the Red Sea on dry ground. Through putting their trust in God and His plans, the faithful find themselves doing that which otherwise would be impossible.  In attempting to follow where God had led the Israelites, the Egyptian armies were destroyed, and Israel escaped to realize God’s appointed destiny for them.

     William Barclay in his commentary on Hebrews says: Moses had the faith he had because he knew God in the way he did. When we come to it straight from God’s presence, no task can ever defeat us. Our failure and our fear are so often due to the fact that we try to do things alone. The secret of victorious living is to face God before we face men.[1]

     The life of Moses is a dramatic example of the difference faith makes in one’s life. Are you living the life of faith? Are you deciding against that which may be enticing but would lead you away from God’s will?  Moses is remembered because his eye was on Him who is invisible, and he had access to spiritual resources.

     Moses knew God. He trusted God, obeyed God, and proved God to be dependable and trustworthy. If you will trust God and obey God, you will find Him to be dependable and worthy of your trust!

Hymn: #517 “I’d rather have Jesus”

Benediction: 24 Offer praise to God our Savior because of our Lord Jesus Christ! Only God can keep you from falling and make you pure and joyful in his glorious presence. Before time began and now and forevermore, God is worthy of glory, honor, power, and authority. Amen. Jude 24–25 (CEV)

 

[1] Barclay, W., ed. (1975). The letter to the Hebrews (p. 159). The Westminster John Knox Press.

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Hebrews 11.22 – The Message in Joseph’s burial arrangements
October 30, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to Worship: Psalm 57:5, 9-11. “God is supreme over the skies; his majesty covers the earth.” “Lord, I will praise you among the nations; I will sing songs of praise about you to all the nations. Your great love reaches to the skies, your truth to the clouds. God, you are supreme above the skies. Let your glory be over all the earth.” (NCV)

      Today we are continuing our look at Hebrews chapter 11 at those who are listed as living by faith in God.  Our focus is on Joseph in verse 22, but I will read from Hebrews 11:20-22 from the NIV Translation.  20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. 21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.” Hebrews 11:20–22 (NIV).  These verses give us a brief summary of the faith of Abraham’s son, grandson and great grandson.  As each neared their death, they demonstrated that they believed God’s promise to their fore-fathers, by passing God’s blessing on to the next generation.  They believed God would continue to work out His plan, as shown to Abraham, in the following generations.

      As Joseph was close to death, he reviewed his funeral arrangements with his brothers and made them promise, with an oath, that they would carry them out.  Joseph was highly regarded in Egypt as the prime minister who helped prepare the country to survive a devastating drought, which lasted for 7 years. After he died, he was embalmed.  The Egyptian’s expertise in embalming is still evident today as new discoveries of ancient mummies are made each year.  Yet what Joseph required his family to promise was greater than just funeral plans; his casket, containing his bones served as a reminder to his descendants of the promises God had made to them.  Listen to verse 22 from the New Living Translation: 22 It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left. Hebrews 11:22 (NLT). 

      In refusing to be buried in Egypt, Joseph is showing his confidence that God WOULD keep his promise – Joseph’s funeral plans declare his faith in the Lord God!  The Message Translation emphasises this: 22 By an act of faith, Joseph, while dying, prophesied the exodus of Israel, and made arrangements for his own burial.” Hebrews 11:22 (The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language).  We read in Hebrews 11:4 that “by faith, Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.”  So also, Joseph in death, through his casket spoke to his descendants about the Lord God.  We see…

1st Joseph’s casket served as a reminder that they were the people of God.

      Joseph could have had an elaborate burial in Egypt and encouraged his relatives to blend in, stop being different and adapt to the new culture around them.  But He didn’t do this himself in life, nor in death.  Instead, his funeral plans declared that Egypt was not his home, “My final resting place will in the land our God promised to us through our fore-fathers.  When He leads you there, you MUST take my bones with you!” 

      As the people of God, they were different and they were to live different and not forget their relationship as God’s people.  We also have been invited into a relationship with God.  In Ephesians chapter 2 we see that God through Christ, chose believing Gentiles to join with believing Israelites to form a new people, to become His people in Christ Jesus.  We are to remember that we are the people of God, imperfections and all, journeying with the Lord to be come all He intends for us to be as his people.  Joseph’s casket reminded them they were the people of God.

22 It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left. Hebrews 11:22 (NLT).

2nd Joseph’s casket served as a reminder of the promises of God.

      Perhaps, at the time of his death Joseph’s remains could have been interred in Canaan as his father Jacob’s was when he died (Gen. 49:29-50:14).  However, it seems Joseph wanted his remains to be a reminder to his descendants of what God had promised all of them, that their time in Egypt would eventually come to an end.  Then and only then would Joseph allow his body to be buried, when Israel’s children could bury it in the land the Lord had promised to them.

      God’s promises to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) continued to unfold as the generations of Israelites walked with God – sometimes feebly, sometimes faithfully, until the time when Jesus the Messiah appeared.  All who respond to the invitation to accept Jesus as their sin forgiver and life leader are welcomed into God’s family, a new creation of Jew and Gentile, the church.  The Apostle Peter describes in 1 Peter 2:9–10 how God sees His church: 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (NIV).  We are the people of God, His special possession, with the privilege of declaring the praises of Him who brought us out of darkness into His wonderful light!  As the Lord sends us, He promises to be with us, even until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20)! 

22 It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left. Hebrews 11:22 (NLT).

3rd Joseph’s casket served as a reminder of the presence of God.

      The descendants of Israel, though slaves, could look at Joseph’s ornate casket and remember his story.  He had also been a mistreated slave, but the Lord God had elevated him to a position second only to the Pharaoh.  Joseph had experienced suffering, but the Lord never left him; and the Lord remains with us through our pain and suffering.

      The writer of the letter to the Hebrews was reminding his readers that these heroes of the faith, not only serve as examples of how to walk by faith, but also that they in faith looked forward to God fulfilling His promises beyond their life times, looking for the very things the readers of Hebrews were now experiencing.  God’s plan was unfolding, the Messiah had come!  Therefore, he calls his readers, this is a time to live by faith and not shrink back (Heb. 10:37-38), no matter what life brings!

      Joseph’s casket was a reminder of God’s faithfulness and a call not to give up hope – “God will lead you to the land He promised – take me with you when He does!”  We too have a casket of sorts in our midst, reminders of God’s work, promises and faithfulness.  The cross is a reminder of God’s love and the lengths He will go to offer us salvation from our sin, as we humble ourselves and accept the gift of His Son, Jesus.  The communion table and the elements are a reminder of the sacrificial love of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus said to let the bread and the cup remind you of what He has done, until He returns.  We are reminded of the cost of our sin.  We are reminded that sin’s price has been paid!  We are reminded that one day He will return and take us out of this “Egypt” here to the place He has prepared for us, the place we belong, at home with Him! Remember you are the people of God.  Remember to trust in the promises of God.  Remember you have the presence of God, lean on Him and not your own understanding. 

Hymn: “Wonderful, merciful Savior”

Benediction: To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” (Revelation 1:5b-6 NIV).

Email:ebc@sasktel.net

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“Faith lessons from Abraham.”  Hebrews 11:8-19.

October 23, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: I will thank the Lord with all my heart; I will declare all your wondrous works. I will rejoice and boast about you; I will sing about your name, Most High.” Psalm 9:1–2 (CSB).

      We have been learning about faith as we look at Hebrews chapter 11.  This is not simply a theological exercise of trying to define faith.  We are observing the lives of individuals and how they responded to God’s invitation to join Him.  For example: Faith caused Abel to worship God.  Faith led Enoch to walk with God.  Faith moved Noah to work for God. 

      Let’s also not forget that we are not looking at these individuals primarily in the Hebrew scriptures (OT), but as they are mentioned in the Letter to the Hebrews.  The Letter to the Hebrews contains the words of wisdom from a Christian leader to a group of Christians struggling in their Christian walk.  Each of the individuals in Hebrews chapter 11, along with specific moments in their lives, were chosen to challenge, encourage and inspire the recipients of the Letter to the Hebrews, and those who would read it later. 

      In faith, Abel worshipped God in a way which pleased Him, even though it increased animosity with his own brother who then killed him.  The first readers of Hebrews were experiencing rejection, even from those closest to them.  Enoch walked with God for 300 years, and God took him.  A possible lesson is that even if it seems your walk of faith doesn’t seem to matter to anyone else, it pleases God!  Noah is an example of faith which doesn’t give up even when you are the only one walking with God.  God was pleased with Noah and preserved him and his family from destruction.

      Today, we will learn from Abraham’s example of faith, and how not to lose hope when our faith is stretched.  Abraham is mentioned in Hebrews 11:8-19.  As we read through this passage, our focus will be on references to what was done by faith.  Today I am reading from God’s Word Translation.

Hebrews 11:8 (GW) Faith led Abraham to obey when God called him to go to a place that he would receive as an inheritance. Abraham left his own country without knowing where he was going. (GW)

1.  Faith in God, led Abraham to put his hope and trust in God.  God’s call to Abraham was to leave his past life behind and trust Him.  Abraham’s faith is seen through his actions; leaving his country and traveling until God told him he had arrived at his destination.  He didn’t know where God was leading him, but he trusted the Lord when He promised a country as his inheritance.  Faith trusts God and His promises, and is confirmed through my actions.  Do I trust God?  Does my life demonstrate trust in my God or in myself?

Hebrews 11:9-10 (GW) Faith led Abraham to live as a foreigner in the country that God had promised him. He lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who received the same promise from God. 10 Abraham was waiting for the city that God had designed and built, the city with permanent foundations.

2.  Faith in God, led Abraham to endure patiently, as a foreigner in the land God had promised him.  Abraham and his descendants lived in tents as nomads in the land God repeatedly promised them.  They stayed because they believed in faith, that one day they would receive what God promised.  The recipients of the letter to the Hebrews were growing wearing of the waiting and persecution – had they made the right decision in following Jesus?  We are quick to accept God’s many blessings, but can get cranky and start to waver in our faith when the blessings don’t come as quickly as we hoped.  Does this mean God is unfaithful?  No, it means we must trust His timing is best, and learn the lessons along the way.  

Hebrews 11:11-12 (GW) 11 Faith enabled Abraham to become a father, even though he was old and Sarah had never been able to have children. Abraham trusted that God would keep his promise. 12 Abraham was as good as dead. Yet, from this man came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the grains of sand on the seashore.

3.  Faith in God, enabled Abraham to trust that God would do the impossible.  Abraham and Sarah were reproductively as good as dead.  Yet because God promised they would have descendants, Abraham continued to trust God would do what He promised.  One lesson is not to look at your situation based on your capabilities, but on God’s.  I am reminded of Jesus’ words in Luke 18:25-27: 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”” Luke 18:25–27 (NIV).  We are tempted to give up when we don’t see results as quickly as we expected.  Faith in God focuses on who is making the promise, not on what your eyes can see!  What is impossible with man, is possible with God! 

Hebrews 11:13-16 (GW) 13 All these people died having faith. They didn’t receive the things that God had promised them, but they saw these things coming in the distant future and rejoiced. They acknowledged that they were living as strangers with no permanent home on earth. 14 Those who say such things make it clear that they are looking for their own country. 15 If they had been thinking about the country that they had left, they could have found a way to go back. 16 Instead, these men were longing for a better country—a heavenly country. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God. He has prepared a city for them.

4.  Faith in God, led them to trust God would fulfill His promises even after their death.  Their faith in God enabled them to be comfortable with unfulfilled promises in this life, because they trusted the certainty of God’s promises in the place, He was preparing for them.  Since they did not turn their back on God even when having no permanent earthly home, God was not ashamed to be associated with them!  Here is a lesson for the recipients of Hebrews, questioning the validity of faith in Jesus because of difficulties they were facing.  Difficulties and disappointments do not mean God has forgotten you.  How about you and I?  How do you respond when things don’t happen as you expect?  Review God’s promises, review and recommit to your response to God’s call on your life.  Believe His promises that He will never leave you or forsake you and that He has gone to prepare a place for you.

Hebrews 11:17–19 (GW) 17 When God tested Abraham, faith led him to offer his son Isaac. Abraham, the one who received the promises from God, was willing to offer his only son as a sacrifice. 18 God had said to him, “Through Isaac your descendants will carry on your name.” 19 Abraham believed that God could bring Isaac back from the dead. Abraham did receive Isaac back from the dead in a figurative sense.

5.  Faith in God, led Abraham to trust God with his dream.  Abraham had longed for a son. God had promised and then provided a son, Isaac, in virtually impossible circumstances, yet now He wanted him back as a sacrifice.  What is going on?  God never puts one of his children to a test until that child is ready for it, now Abraham was.  As Abraham was in the very process of offering his son to God, God stopped him and provided a Ram as a replacement.  The writer of Hebrews tells us that Abraham believed since God promised that Isaac would be his heir, that God could bring Isaac back from the dead.  Abraham’s faith in God led him to trust God even with what mattered most to him. 

      Generations later, when Abraham’s descendants were preparing to enter the land God had promised them, Moses warned them not to let the blessings of the land cause them to forget the Lord.  What is most important to you, the gift, or the giver?  Am I following God for what I can get from Him, or for who He is?  God blesses us with so many things, but if they were removed, would our faith falter?  Is my faith dependent on the gifts or a relationship with the giver of those gifts?  If the gifts are withdrawn, will I still trust the goodness of the giver, of the Lord?

      Abraham was the father of the Hebrews, the one through whom the promised blessings from the Lord began.  The readers of the letter to the Hebrews are reminded that faith, walking by faith in God, is what distinguished Abraham from everyone else.  And so, they are called to continue to walk by faith, for this is what pleases the Lord.  Christian, put your trust, your faith in the Lord and daily walk in relationship with Him.  Spend time reading and meditating on His Word, talk and listen to Him in prayer.

2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.”” Isaiah 12:2 (NIV).

4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:4 (NIV).

Hymn: #461 “He leadeth me” (vv. 1-3)

Benediction: “Now I am putting you in the care of God and the message about his grace. It is able to give you strength, and it will give you the blessings God has for all his holy people. Acts 20:32 (NCV)

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What are you building?  Hebrews 11.7

October 16, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

 

     We are continuing our look at Hebrews chapter 11, sometimes called the Faith Hall of Fame.  The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians who were being tempted to return to Judaism. The author of Hebrews has been reminding them of the superiority of Jesus, the Messiah, over everyone else.  Jesus is our great High Priest who has opened the way for us to approach God the Father without fear.  As he ends chapter 10, in v. 38 he quotes from Habakkuk 2:4b, reminding them of the need to live by faith.  Then, in Hebrews chapter 11 we see what living by faith looks like, as we are given a sample of those who lived by faith.  Their lives were not easy or uncomplicated, but their choices to obey God’s Word, in faith, pleased God and serves as an example to us.

     Before we continue, we should answer the question: What is faith and why is it important?  When we speak of faith, we are thinking about trust, and where we place our trust makes all the difference.  People have lost thousands of dollars putting their faith in individuals who proved to be untrustworthy.  Hebrews 11 is talking about putting our trust in the Lord God, who is faithful to His Word.  When He promises something, we can “take it to the bank,” it is trustworthy.  Hebrews 11:1-2 from the Message Translation says: “1 The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. 2 The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.Hebrews 11:1–2 (The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language). 

     Why is placing our faith, our trust in God so important?  Hebrews 11:6 puts it plainly: “6 It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.Hebrews 11:6 (The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language).  Why is faith in God important?  It is the only way to please God, because faith demonstrate you believe He exists and that you believe He cares enough to respond to those who seek Him.  Faith in God is the foundation of a trusting relationship with God.

     Today we are looking at Noah who is mentioned in Hebrews 11:7. Noah lived at a time when he and a few family members were the only people on earth who cared enough about God to respond to His warnings about their sins and a coming judgement.  Hebrews 11:7. “Faith led Noah to listen when God warned him about the things in the future that he could not see. He obeyed God and built a ship to save his family. Through faith Noah condemned the world and received God’s approval that comes through faith.” (GW).  Noah spent years building the ark, possibly 100!  It’s likely he built it on the plains of modern-day Iraq, far from the sea.  Can you image how many times Noah must have been asked “What are you building?”   When he answered their question, he likely also told them why – God is sending a world-wide flood, only those within the ark will be saved.  Will you join me? 

     How is Noah an example of faith?  I see two ways based on Hebrews 11:7.

  1. Hebrews 11:7a. “Faith led Noah to listen when God warned him about the things in the future that he could not see. He obeyed God and built a ship to save his family.” (GW).

     Faith may begin as a response in the heart, but it is confirmed through one’s actions and choices.  Faith in God, trust in God’s Word, motivated Noah to ignore what his eyes could see as well as the “advice” his ears heard from those around him, and instead he acted on what God had told him.  Day by day he built the ark according to the specifications that God had given him.  How about you?  What determines your choices and your actions?  Is it what you can see and hear or is it by faith in what God’s Word directs?

     Faith acts on what God says and what you know of God through His Word.  The ESV translates Heb. 11:7a as: “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household.” Hebrews 11:7 (ESV).  Noah acted “in reverent fear.”  The NRSV says “respected the warning” and the NIV says “in holy fear.”  Noah appreciated God’s mercy, yet took His holiness seriously – he built the ark!  God is just and will judge sin, yet He is merciful, thus He warned the world through Moses and his 100 years of ark building!

  1. Hebrews 11:7b. “Through faith Noah condemned the world and received God’s approval that comes through faith.” (GW).

     Noah, what are you building?  The finished ark, sitting on the dry plain showed that God had spoken in a way that humanity could hear.  Noah did, and built the ark according to God’s plans.  The question was, do you trust God and take His Word seriously?  For Noah, building the ark was a demonstration of his faith in God’s Word shown through his action.

     The ark, bobbing on the water covered earth, confirmed that God kept His word to act against humanity’s sin, and also save those who had faith in His Word.  Noah got the message and prepared for the flood.  The others may have also heard the message, but didn’t believe it, or else they too would have prepared!

     What are you building?  Why did Noah spend so many years of his life building the ark?  He believed and obeyed God’s warning, AND therefore, he built the ark to save his family!  Hebrews 11:7. “Faith led Noah to listen when God warned him about the things in the future that he could not see. He obeyed God and built a ship to save his family. Through faith Noah condemned the world and received God’s approval that comes through faith.” (GW).  God revealed to Noah what He would do, and what Noah could do to save his family.  God showed him how to save what was of highest importance to him, and that is why he invested years of his life in doing so!  Why didn’t the others?  Didn’t they care about their families as well?  Of course, they did, but they did not have faith in God, they did not take God’s warnings seriously enough to turn from their sin!  They seemingly listened to the serpent’s question: “Did God really say?” and his response “you shall not die!” 

     We need to ask ourselves, “Who am I listening to?”  You can determine the answer by looking at what you are spending your time on.  Ask yourself, “What am I building?  What will be my legacy?” 

     Let me ask you, are you putting your trust in your own efforts or are you building an ark for yourself and inviting your family and friends to join you in?  Building an ark?!  Pastor, are you losing it?  I’m not talking about building a ship, I’m asking about where you are placing your faith for eternal protection. God has made it clear, He will judge sin, and that all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard.  Place your faith in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and Him alone!  Noah’s ark is a foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus Christ.  All who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins will be saved (cf. Acts 16:31; Jn. 10:9).  All who refuse to come to Jesus as their sin forgiver and life leader will perish (Jn. 3:18).

     Noah is someone who believed God’s Word without needing any addition evidence that a world-wide flood was possible.  His faith is evident to us in the building of the ark.  The Lord God saw his heart and his righteous choices at a time when everyone else was making sinful choices.  We also have a daily choice to make.  As 3 John 11 says: “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.” (CSB).  What am I building?  What are you building?  May I fear You, O Lord, and serve and obey You and not rebel against Your commands. (cf. 1 Sam.  12:14)

Hymn #358: “I am thine O Lord” (vv. 1-3).

Benediction: God did not say that it would be easy to bring the good news to all people, but God did say that God would be with you. So go now in peace, walking humbly with God. Bring the good news of hope to all the people. AMEN

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Hebrews 11.6 – The faith to remain thankful.
Oct 9, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to Worship: Come, let’s sing joyfully to the Lord.  Let’s shout happily to the rock of our salvation.  Let’s come into his presence with a song of thanksgiving.  Let’s shout happily to him with psalms.  The Lord is a great God and a great king above all gods.” Psalm 95:1–3 (GW).

      This morning in our Responsive Reading we read from Deuteronomy 8, where Moses spoke to the descendants of Israel, as they were soon to enter the land the Lord God had promised to their forefathers.  In verses 6 and following, He encourages them to obey the commands of the Lord their God, by walking in obedience to him and revering him.  Moses’ concern is that once they enter their new land and experience its abundance, that they will forget the Lord and his guidance.  But how could that ever happen to a people saved from slavery in Egypt by the hand of the Lord?  They had such an incredible experience, what a testimony!  How could they forget?  In time, pride in their accomplishments could lead them to take for granted the bounty the Lord had provided for them in the land, hills and sky.  They would stop appreciating that what they had was a fulfillment of the covenant the Lord God had made with their forefathers’.  In other words, they would stop being thankful to the Lord God for what He had given them!  This lack of thankfulness to the Lord would then lead to a lack of faithfulness, as a failure to acknowledge the Lord would lead them to stop observing his commands for them.

      How is our attitude of thankfulness to God and our faith on God linked?  We have been looking at Hebrews chapter 11 the last few weeks.  We’ve seen that the faith, the trust we express in God is a response to the certainty of his truthfulness and faithfulness.  Those who believe what God says, make their life’s decisions based on his guidance, thus expressing their faith in God’s Word through their choices and actions.

      In Hebrews 11:4, Abel was commended by God as a righteous man.  Genesis 4 records that he presented to the Lord an offering of a choice lamb from his flock, which the Lord accepted.  In this action Abel showed his heart attitude towards the Lord.  He was willing offered the best he had, even as others might have argued it would weaken the genetics of his flock.  Abel was demonstrating his gratitude to the Lord, and acknowledging the lamb was gift from the Lord all along.  Abel trusted that the Lord could provide more quality lambs if he so chose. 

      This is what Moses reminded his listeners of in Deut. 8:18 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” Deuteronomy 8:18 (NIV).  Moses is calling them, and us, to remember, the ability to produce wealth is a gift from the Lord, AND also a fulfillment of his promises.  Meaning, when you are counting your cash, be thankful, may it remind you that the Lord is being faithful to his promise to provide for you, as you express your faith in him.  Let’s return to Hebrews 11.

      Hebrews 11:6 says: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 (NIV).  The Message translates this verse as: It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 (The Message).  Moses warns us not to let pride seep into our hearts so we take credit for what God has blessed us with.  Instead, as Hebrews 11:6 reminds us, that those with faith in God are thankful because they acknowledge his presence and his blessings.

      How does the Lord God bless those who seek him?  What are you thankful for?  Yes, we are thankful for material things, which Jesus told us not to worry about because our Heavenly Father already knows we need them!  What else are you thankful for?  Have you experienced the forgiveness of your sin?  Are you thankful for your salvation?  If you have called upon Jesus as your sin forgiver and life leader, you have been redeemed from sin by the priceless, precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Are you thankful for the Lord’s presence, guidance and watch care?  He reminds you; I will never leave you or forsake you; I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you…  Are you thankful for his indwelling Spirit, and the fruit of his presence growing in your life?  Are you thankful for God’s faithful love towards you (Romans 8:38-39).  We place our faith in God because we trust him.  He keeps his promises, he IS faithful.  What are you thankful for?

      Saying grace before a meal is a “simple” action, but if done with the proper attitude it can be an expression of Hebrews 11:6.  You believe that God exists, therefore you acknowledge him both as present and as the source of the meal you are about to eat.  The Lord provides for us; it all has come from him.  Giving thanks is a way of expressing your faith in God, and acknowledging that he is faithful and true to his Word to provide for you! 

      The prophet Habakkuk lamented the wickedness rampant in the land and he was overwhelmed when the Lord declared he would use Babylon as his instrument of judgment.  The Lord responded that the time would come when he would also judge the Babylonians for their brutality.  Habakkuk’s final response is one of faith based on his trust in the character of the Lord, rather than on what he saw with his eyes.  Similar to what we read in Hebrews 11:1 regarding faith: 1 Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (GW).  Habakkuk does not give up, for his hope was grounded in his trust in the Lord God, his word and his ways.  Listen to Habakkuk’s expression of faith in God, which is not based on sight: 17 Even if the fig tree does not bloom and the vines have no grapes, even if the olive tree fails to produce and the fields yield no food, even if the sheep pen is empty and the stalls have no cattle— 18 even then, I will be happy with the Lord.  I will truly find joy in God, who saves me.  19 The Lord Almighty is my strength.  He makes my feet like those of a deer.  He makes me walk on the mountains.” Habakkuk 3:17–19 (GW).

      Habakkuk continues to find joy in the Lord and to give thanks because He remains his strength and salvation.  How about you?  What do you have to be thankful for?  Are you thankful for your salvation?  Are you thankful for the Lord’s presence, guidance and care?  Are you thankful for his indwelling in your life?  Are you thankful for God’s faithful love towards you? If so, what are you doing to show your thankfulness?  For those recorded in Hebrews 11, their thankfulness to God was then seen in their walk of faith.  Is your thankfulness firmly rooted in the assurance that the Lord is with you and working for your good, the good of those who love him and walk with him?  Join with the Psalmist and this Thanksgiving share what the Lord has done for you!  Psalm 66:16–20 16 All who worship God, come here and listen; I will tell you everything God has done for me. 17 I prayed to the Lord, and I praised him. 18 If my thoughts had been sinful, he would have refused to hear me. 19 But God did listen and answered my prayer. 20 Let’s praise God! He listened when I prayed, and he is always kind.” (CEV).

Benediction: 15a Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. 16a Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:15a, 16a, 17 (NLT)

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Hebrews 11.5.  Enoch – faith brings God pleasure.
 
Esterhazy Baptist Church. Sept 25, 2022
 

Call to Worship: “Whoever goes to the Lord for safety, whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty, can say to him, “You are my defender and protector. You are my God; in you I trust.”” “He will cover you with his wings; you will be safe in his care; his faithfulness will protect and defend you.” Psalm 91:1–2, 4(GNB)

      The book of Hebrews was written to discouraged, wavering Christians.  They had begun with strong faith, for they endured persecution and helped others to do the same.  Yet doubts were now creeping into their minds – had they made the right decision in accepting Jesus as Messiah? 

      The author of Hebrews reminds them of Jesus’ sufficiency to represent us before God as our true High Priest.  It is only by placing our faith and trust in Jesus’ redemptive work on our behalf that we can enter God’s presence with confidence.  He then calls his readers to not give up, but to live by faith.  Chapter 11 shows us what it looks like to life by faith. 

      Hebrews 11 begins by introducing us to two pre-flood individuals we know little about.  We may overlook them when studying the heroes of faith, but God does not over them!  Why?  He was pleased with their faith, and therefore we need to learn lessons from their lives.  Abel (v. 4) is the first person we encounter as we enter “faith’s hall of fame.” That Abel had faith is repeated three times in one verse!  Abel’s act of giving the best he had to the Lord, in love and worship, not concerned with the reaction of anyone but the Lord, gained him God’s approval and first mention in Hebrews 11.

      Today we are looking at a man named Enoch.  Hebrews 11:5 says, 5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.” Hebrews 11:5 (NIV). 

      Why is Enoch included among the heroes of the faith?  An amazing act of faith?  Faith the size of a mustard seed?  We are simply told that he pleased God, so he did not experience death!  Three times in this verse we are told we was taken (NIV) or ‘translated’ which means conveyed from one realm to another.” [1] He was transferred by God from earth to heaven without passing through death. The only other biblical record of anything like this is the prophet, Elijah.  Let’s to Genesis chapter 5 which tells us about Enoch.

      Genesis 5:18–24 “18 When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch. 19 After he became the father of Enoch, Jared lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 20 Altogether, Jared lived a total of 962 years, and then he died. 21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. 22 After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. 24 Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” (NIV) 

      Our reading at verse 18 with Jared the father of Enoch to get a taste for the rhythm that is repeated again and again in Genesis chapter 5.  A man lived a certain number of years, became the father of … then lived …years and had other children, altogether he lived … years and then he died and the next one lived and died and on it goes.  God’s Word is proved true and the serpent’s “you shall not die” a lie!  Yes, they live long lives, but eventually everyone succumbs to death.  Enoch’s obituary stands out because it is missing his death announcement! Instead, we are told then he was no more, because God took him away.  This would have shocked people because he was only 365 years old!  People in those days didn’t die that young of natural causes.  Adam had died only 57 years earlier and his son Seth was still alive when God took Enoch!  This was to remind them that although death comes, it does not the final word; God still has His say!

      A little girl who came home from Sunday school, and her mother asked, “What did your teacher tell you about today?” The little girl said, “She told us all about this man Enoch.” And the mother said, “Well, what about Enoch?”

      So the little girl told her mother this story: “Enoch lived a long time ago, and God would come by every afternoon and say to him, ‘Enoch, would you like to take a walk with Me?’ Enoch would say, ‘Yes, I’d like to take a walk with You, God.’ And so every day God would come by Enoch’s house, and Enoch would go walking with God. One day God came by and said, ‘Enoch, let’s take a long walk today. I want to talk to you.’ So they started out. Enoch got his coat—even took his lunch, and they started walking. They walked and they walked and they walked, and finally it got late. Enoch said, ‘My, it’s getting late, and I am a long way from home. Maybe we’d better start back.’ But God said, ‘Enoch, you are closer to My home than you are to your home, so you come on and go home with Me.’ And so Enoch went home with God.”

      Why did God take him away?  Because “Enoch walked faithfully with God”.  To walk with God in the Hebrew means being in close relationship with God, and this only happens with those who “pleased God” (Heb. 11:5b).  When Enoch “was no more, because God took him away”

      We are told in Genesis 5:22-24 that Enoch’s walk with God began after he became the father of Methuselah.  The arrival of a child does call for parents to examine their priorities and life’s direction; this may be what led to Enoch’s decision to walk with God.

      James Boice in his commentary suggests there may have been something more.  The name Methuselah, is usually understood to mean: “Man of the javelin.”  Boice feels a second option is: “He dies, a sending forth” which he understands to mean: “When he is dead, it shall come.”  Boice suggests that: Enoch had a revelation at the time of Methuselah’s birth of the destruction to come on the earth by flood. God said that the flood was to come after the death of that son. So, either at God’s explicit direction or as an act of his own faith, Enoch named the child Methuselah – “when he is dead, it shall come.” While Methuselah lived, the flood would be held back. But when he died, it would come.” [2]  This may explain Enoch’s decision to walk with God following the birth of his son Methuselah.

      Methuselah lived the longest of any human being recorded in the Bible, with his son Lamech, Noah’s father, dying 5 years before him. The flood came the year Methuselah died.  Boice sees his long-life as a gift, a demonstration of God’s mercy, offering the people of Noah’s time opportunity to return to Him: “Methuselah… was a testimony to God’s grace. For this is why Methuselah lived longer than any other man on earth. His longevity was no accident.” [3] 

      Boice’s speculation that God gave Enoch some insight into His coming judgment on the earth may explain his decision to walk with the Lord.  However, before we use this as an excuse to say that’s why he had such faith, and we struggle, let’s remember that we also have many revelations that judgement is coming!  Continuing a walk of faith for 300 years (3½ – 4 of our lifetimes) is no easy task!  How can we develop a faith that brings God pleasure?  Hebrews 11:5–6 says: “5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (NIV) 

      The writer of Hebrews is urging his readers to keep their faith in the Lord, because it is impossible to please God without faith.  All the good works or offerings in the world, done without faith, will not please God!  At the heart of faith in God is a belief in God’s existence and His goodness, that leads a person to live their life to please God as their chief priority no matter the situation.  This is what we will see in upcoming examples of faith in Hebrews 11. 

      This week I have been encourage by passages of scripture which have been turned into prayers by Kenneth Boa:

May I not be like those who draw near to You with their mouths and honor You with their lips, but whose hearts are far from You, and whose reverence for You is made up only of rules taught by men. (Isaiah 29:13)

I desire not only to call You Lord but to do what You say. By Your grace, I will come to You, hear Your words, and put them into practice. Then I will be like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock, and when a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. (Luke 6:46–48)[4]

      Faith, believing that God exists and rewards those who seek Him, is something which grows and deepens as we grow in our friendship with God.  Like any friendship, you must spend quality time with your friend for the relationship to develop.  You walk through good times and bad times together, and as you do, your appreciation for your friend (the Lord) grows.

      I was reading in Daniel 7 and marvelling at the vision Daniel had been given of the Lord coming with the clouds of heaven to receive all authority.  I thought, wow, how does one come to the point where God is willing to trust them with such revelation?  Then I reflected on Daniel’s story.  It began as a youth, with a small but deliberate choice not to be swept up in the pagan culture surrounding him.  So, he and some friends refused to eat the Babylonian food, since it did not meet the dietary laws of the Jews and instead ate grains and drank water.  They also continue their practice of daily prayers to the Lord God, even as pressure to conform grew, yet they saw glimpses the Lord was pleased with their faith in Him.  They were entrusted with more responsibility and known as people of integrity, even as others hated them! 

      Join with Abel & Enoch in the walk of faith.  Believe that God exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him!

      I will close with personalized versions of Jeremiah 9:23-24 & Lamentations 3:24-26:

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the strong man boast of his strength, and let not the rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23–24)

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I will wait for Him.”  The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.  It is good to hope silently for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:24–26) [5]

Closing Song: “Jesus strong & kind.” https://youtu.be/T5Y8s-Sz_ac

Benediction: Go forth joyfully. God is with you. Bring peace and hope to all you meet. And may God’s eternal love shine through you always. AMEN.



[1] Hagner, D. A. (2011). Hebrews (p. 185). Baker Books.

[2] Boice, J. M. (1998). Genesis: an expositional commentary (p. 292). Baker Books.

[3] Boice, J. M. (1998). Genesis: an expositional commentary (p. 295). Baker Books.

[4] Boa, K. (1993). Handbook to prayer: praying scripture back to God. Month 1, day 19. Trinity House.

[5] Boa, K. (1993). Handbook to prayer: praying scripture back to God. Month 1, day 24. Trinity House.

Email:ebc@sasktel.net

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Sept 18, 2022 Podbean

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Hebrews 11.4 – The message of Abel.
Sept 18, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to Worship: Teach me your way, Lord, and I will live by your truth. Give me an undivided mind to fear your name. I will praise you with all my heart, Lord my God, and will honor your name forever. For your faithful love for me is great, and you rescue my life from the depths of Sheol.” Psalm 86:11–13 (CSB).

      We are continuing our study of Hebrews chapter 11.  Last week we were reminded that the certainty of our faith lives wholly on who or what it is placed.  Our faith is in the living God.  He made all that is from nothing.  He spoke it into being and there is no one who compares with Him.  Our faith/trust in God is the firm foundation which gives us confidence, that what our powerful & truthful God has said, will come to pass.  Why is this important to emphasize?  The recipients of this letter were becoming discouraged.  Persecution and doubt were causing them to waver in their faith.  The writer of Hebrews, in the first 10 chapters has shown that Jesus is the one we have been waiting for, He is the perfect High Priest.  Now in this chapter, he draws on those whom in chapter 12 he calls “a great cloud of witnesses” to testify of the value of trusting in God by living a life of faith.  These witnesses are not spectators watching us, they are cheerleaders whose lives testify to the dependability of God to meet the deepest needs of life.  Their lives call us to us, “Trust God and don’t give up, He will see you through!”

      Our text today is Hebrews 11:4. By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.” Hebrews 11:4 (NIV).  It speaks of the immortality of influence.  Abel was the second generation of humanity, a son of Adam & Eve.  Although he is long dead, his life of faith still speaks!  This should remind us that our lives speak to those around us, and they will continue to speak even after our tongues have grown silent.  What message is your life communicating?  Is it good news that blesses or it that which brings harm & pain to others?

 

 

1.  Abel speaks of a life of faith.

      When we think of faith in God, especially in the context of Hebrews chapter 11, we may conclude that the most faithful are those who did great things, even impossible things.  Whether this is deliberate or a sub-conscious, accepting this definition of faith gives most of us a “pass,” allowing us to think: that’s just not me, I don’t have that ‘gift’.  Yet the very 1st person you meet as you enter the Hebrews 11 faith hall of fame is Abel.  What great act of faith did Abel accomplish, remember it led to his death.  He expressed his faith in God, he responded to God in faith!

      Faith is a response to God and to his will for our lives.  Genuine faith is more than our mental agreement with biblical truths.  It is more than saying “Yes, I believe in one God.” James 2:19 tells us that even the demons, fallen angels who reject God’s authority over them, agree with that statement, that is not faith!  Genuine faith is responding in accepting trust to God’s revelation of Himself through Jesus Christ and the testimony of those who have known Him and lived with Him.

      Saving faith is a believing response to the Good News of Jesus.  1 My friends, I want you to remember the message that I preached and that you believed and trusted. 2a You will be saved by this message, if you hold firmly to it. 3b Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures say. 4 He was buried, and three days later he was raised to life, as the Scriptures say.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-2a, 3b–4 (CEV).

      Faith is a gift of God which we then respond to.  We show our faith, our trust, our belief in God’s promises through our actions, and that is what Abel did through offering the best of his flock.

2.  Abel speaks of a life of faith & worship.

      Abel’s faith was deeper than a concept or ritual.  His faith in God longed for a way to express heart felt appreciation to Him, and this was expressed in personal worship.

      Genuine faith, like genuine love, longs to find a way to express itself.  Because of the faith in his heart, Abel sought to worship the Lord through the means available to him.  Worship of God is the offering of worth to the one who is of supreme worth. 

      Do you worship the God of Abel, Abraham and Paul, or have you allowed the god of success or leisure to take first place in your goals and activities?  Heart-felt worship of our God is a natural result of genuine growing faith.  Our faith grows as we daily put our trust in God to lead and direct us.  How are you doing this?

3.  Abel speaks of a life of faith, worship & excellence.

      Genesis 4:4 says: Abel also gave an offering to the Lord. He killed the first-born lamb from one of his sheep and gave the Lord the best parts of it. The Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering,” Genesis 4:4 (CEV).

       Abel’s worshipful attitude is seen in that he brought the best of what he had to the Lord as an offering.  While those with a heart which matches Abel would say, Of course, what else would you do?  Those with shallow or no real faith are looking for loopholes, for this level of faith & worship is costly to continue for a lifetime and it takes away from what I have for myself!  The prophet Malachi relayed the Lord God’s sorrow that the people had so little respect for Him that they were sacrificing blind, crippled and diseased sheep, animals they would never dare present to their Persian governor (Malachi 1:6-8)!

      Abel was thoughtful about what he offered, presenting to the Lord the best he had.  Like King David, Abel also refused to give to the Lord that which cost him nothing (2 Samuel 24:24).  The value of the gift to the giver, expresses the value placed by them on the recipient of their gift.  This is what Howard B. Grose expressed in his poem: Give of your best to the Master, Naught else is worthy His love; He gave Himself for your ransom, gave up His glory above; Laid down His life without murmur, you from sin’s ruin to save; Give Him your heart’s adoration, Give Him the best that you have.

4.  Abel speaks of divine approval.

      Genesis 4:4 says: The Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering, but not with Cain and his offering. This made Cain so angry that he could not hide his feelings.”  Genesis 4:4b-5 (CEV).

      There is much discussion over why Abel and his animal offering was accepted by God, while Cain and his offering of crops were rejected.  Both types of offerings became part of the Hebrew sacrificial system.  It seems to me that the attitude of the giver lies at the root of the issue here. 

      This is the attitude Jesus highlighted in his comments recorded in Mark 12:41-44 – 41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”” Mark 12:41–44 (NIV).

      It would seem Cain’s offering was not given in faith, as a genuine love response to God.  When God didn’t respond as he expected, Cain was mad, then jealous of his brother for receiving God’s approval.  Still today there is the danger of simply “going through the motions” of worship and giving and not responding from a heartfelt relationship with God.  Sometimes God is offered a gift in the hope of off-setting sinful behavior, it won’t work.  A gift may be given to receive the praise of people, but the wrong motive of the heart is clearly seen and disapproved of by God.  Gifts presented grudgingly, out of a feeling of obligation or simply to attain tax benefits also fall short of divine approval.  What’s missing?  Our love for God.  Paul tells us that even the greatest gift or sacrifice if not given in love is ultimately meaningless: 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:3 (NIV). 

      Abel’s simple act of giving the best he had, in love and worship to the Lord, gained him the Lord’s approval.  That’s it!  No begging. No manipulation, and no need to bargain with God.  Come to God the Father, through the saving work of Jesus the Son, and offer Him in love, your heart, body, mind and spirit.

Hymn: “Give of your best to the master.”

Benediction: Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you” 1 Chronicles 28:20b (NASB 2020).

Email:ebc@sasktel.net

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Hebrews 11.1-3. The full assurance of placing our faith in Jesus Christ.
Sept 11, 2022 Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to Worship: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14, 16 NIV)

Hymn: “Faithful one”

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 10:19-23; 10:32-11:2,6

Hebrews 10:19–23 19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (NIV).

Hebrews 10:32–11:2, 6 32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. 1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.” 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (NIV).

      Yesterday morning (Saturday), I opened my email and saw the heading “Today is an important mental health day.”  It was from a Christian site and I thought, oh, it must be in preparation for the anniversary of 9-11 in the states.  Instead, the email stated that Sept. 10 is “World suicide prevention day.”  It went on to explain that the CDC has found that almost half of all adults experience mental illness in their life time.  Mental health is something Christians need to be compassionate and caring about for those within and without our churches. 

      There is still the terror from abroad represented by 9-11 and terror from within, witnessed at the James Smith Cree Nation here in Saskatchewan.  We were looking forward to “getting back to normal” after the covid-19 health restrictions; however, war, weather, air port chaos and inflation has popped that balloon!  Most churches have been slower to return to their pre-pandemic vibrancy and the graying of our congregations seems to be growing.

      Good mental health is vital, and so is our spiritual health.  What can we do to maintain our spiritual health, especially when we are facing difficult times?  Periods of problems, stress and pain seem to stretch us to our spiritual limit and all the while, voices within and around us are telling us to look for help in places other than the Lord God.  What are we to do?

      Rather than giving into the urge to walk away from Lord, we should run to Him, clinging to Him and seek His wisdom found in His word.  Do not be embarrassed to ask Him for help, His greatest victories can be seen in our toughest trials!

      The pressures and feelings we are experiencing today were not unknown by 1st century Christians, and so, help is found in God’s Word.  Today I want to begin a study of Hebrews chapter 11.  Turning to a chapter which is seen by many as being the Biblical Hall of Fame, may seem counter productive when trying to help the discouraged, yet this is what the writer to the Hebrews did.  We don’t know who wrote the book of Hebrews, but it was written to discouraged, wavering Christians, likely converts from Judaism.  They had started with strong faith, enduring persecution and helping others to do the same.  Yet some had grown weary, relief was not coming and doubts were creeping into their minds – had they made the right decision in turning to Jesus? 

      The writer of Hebrews has reminded his readers of Jesus’ uniqueness and sufficiency to represent us before God as our true High Priest.  Through placing our faith and trust in Jesus’ redemptive work on our behalf we can enter into God’s presence with confidence, because Christ has made us clean.  He has reminded us repeatedly of God’s faithfulness to us (faithful one so unchanging), and then calls us not to give up, but to hold on and live by faith.  Then he begins chapter 11 with an explanation of faith in verses 1-3.  Some may think of faith similar to a young girl who defined faith as: “Having to believe in something you know ain’t so.”   Yet expressing faith is something we do everyday.  Every time we turn on a light, sit on a chair, drive a car or bank, we are exercising faith.  Without exercising faith our economy would collapse.  Yet when Christian talk of faith they are sometimes mocked.

      Our Christian faith is based on a relationship of trust in God, not our abilities!  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5–6 (NIV).  Hebrews 11:1-2 is a description of our faith, rather than a definition of faith.  1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.” Hebrews 11:1–2 (NIV). The Contemporary English Version says: 1 Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see. 2 It was their faith that made our ancestors pleasing to God.” Hebrews 11:1–2 (CEV). The Message Translation says: 1 The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.” Hebrews 11:1 (The Message).  Our faith in God, our trust that He will do what He says because He does not lie, is the bedrock, the firm foundation we can count on when everything is unstable.

      F.F. Bruce in his commentary on Hebrews says this about Hebrews 11:1-2: In Old Testament times… there were many men and women who had nothing but the promises of God to rest upon, without any visible evidence that these promises would ever be fulfilled; yet so much did these promises mean to them that they regulated the whole course of their lives in their light. The promises related to a state of affairs belonging to the future; but these people acted as if that state of affairs were already present, so convinced were they that God could and would fulfil what he had promised. In other words, they were men and women of faith.[1]

      Those listed in Hebrews chapter 11 “Hall of Fame” are not people who experience a life of ease without hardship or challenges.  The point for us to grasp is that because of their faith in God and His promises to them, they were faithful to Him and have become examples to us of those who walk by faith and not by sight.  Their voices call out to us today, “God is faithful! Trust Him and don’t give up! He will see you through!”

      When we are anxious, Noah’s life speaks to us: “Patience! I had to wait 120 years to see God’s plan fulfilled in my life; a few more weeks of waiting will do you good!”

      When we run the race and begin to doubt, Sarah shouts, “Keep going! God is able to do the impossible!”

      Joseph faced one hardship after another: sold into slavery by his brothers, imprisoned on false charges, forgotten by those he helped. Yet his life testifies to us, “Trust God in spite of your circumstances!”

      Faith in the Lord God produces faithfulness, this means our faith is seen in our choices, our action, because we believe God’s promises.  Let people see your faith through the life choices you make, because faith in God will bring victory!

Hymn: #486 “Faith is the victory” (vv. 1,2)

Benediction: The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:56-58 (TNIV)



[1] Bruce, F. F. (1990). The Epistle to the Hebrews (Rev. ed., p. 276). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Email:ebc@sasktel.net

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Psalm 118 – The Lord’s hand has done mighty things. 

Sept. 4, 2022.  Esterhazy Baptist Church. 

 

Call to Worship: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14, 16 NIV)  

Psalm 118 (NIV) 

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2 Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.” 3 Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.” 4 Let those who fear the Lord say: “His love endures forever.” 5 When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. 6 The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? 7 The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies. 8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. 9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. 10 All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. 11 They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. 12 They swarmed around me like bees, but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them down. 13 I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. 14 The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. 15 Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! 16 The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!” 17 I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. 18 The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. 19 Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. 21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. 22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. 25 Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success! 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. 27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. 28 You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. 29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”  

Today we are looking at Psalm 118, the last of 6 psalms known as the Egyptian Hallel (praise) psalms (#113-118), which were sung during the Passover celebration.  One can understand why this psalm would be including in a collection for use remembering Israel’s Exodus from slavery in Egypt.  The Exodus was a time when the Lord demonstrated that human, including princely power is no match for His.  The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! 

As we have seen with the other psalms in this collection, we don’t know when, where, why or by whom this psalm was written.  It is so beautifully general in its description of the troubles faced that it applies to many incidents in Israel’s history.  The form of this psalm invites its use in both large and small gatherings as well as allowing for an individual to testify to the Lord’s goodness and enduring love.   

The Psalm begins in vv. 1-4 with a call for communal praise, using the response: “His love endures forever.”  In v. 2, the community of Israel is invited to respond, in v. 3 it is the priest, and in v. 4, it is likely everyone.  It is possible that by the time of Jesus “those who fear the Lord” included God fearing Gentiles.  Thinking of the book of Proverbs, I wonder if this is another way of call for those who are wise to respond – 10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdomProverbs 9:10a (NIV).  

Verses 5-13 contain an individual’s testimony on how trusting in the Lord made the difference between victory or certain defeat.  Some scholars feel we are to hear a Davidic king testifying to the Lord’s faithfulness.  Psalm 118 begins and ends with the call to “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Ps. 118:1, 29).   This is the same refrain King Jehoshaphat had sung by those leading his army out to watch the Lord defeat an invasion force (2 Chron. 20:21b). 

By the way, here is an interesting observation from James Boice’s commentary: It is reported by people who count such things that there are 31,174 verses in the Bible, and if that is so, then these verses, the 15,587th and the 15,588th, are the middle verses. That position should be reason enough to give them prominence. 

What do you suppose a middle verse should say? Shouldn’t the middle verse of the Bible be John 3:16, or its equivalent? Or something from Psalm 23? At least it should be about God’s love, perhaps “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Actually, the middle verses of the Bible are none of these or anything else we might naturally expect, though in their simplicity they are of vast importance. Significantly, they are about putting our trust in God rather than in mere human beings. 

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.  It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes (Ps. 118:8–9).1  Amen, Christian, put your trust in the Lord rather than in people, no matter how influential! 

Verse 14-19 continue the testimony of praise to the Lord, now including some of Moses’ song of praise found in Exodus 15, after Pharaoh’s army was swept away by the sea.  Psalm 118:14 quotes directly from Exodus 15:2 The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.Exodus 15:2a (NIV).  Exodus 15:6 6 Your right hand, Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, Lord, shattered the enemy.” (NIV) is paraphrased in Ps. 118:15b-16 15b The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! 16 The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!Psalm 118:15–16 (NIV).   

Verses 20-29 end the Psalm with thanksgiving and worship.  Some feel that the gates referred to are describing the special entrances designed for the king and his entourage to access the inner courtyard (Ezek. 44:3; 46:1-8). 

Verses 22-24, referring to a rejected stone becoming the cornerstone, was from a Hebrew proverb expressing the transition from humiliation to honour.  Some say this was a picture of Israel, God choosing the people and bringing them out of slavery in Egypt.  One can also see David, rejected by King Saul, then most of the tribes, until he is finally made king of all the tribes (2 Samuel 5:1-5).   

By Jesus’ time Psalm 118 was considered a Messianic psalm.  As we read this psalm, did you hear some familiar passages?  Verses 25 & 26 were shouted by the crowds on “Palm Sunday” and is recorded in all 4 Gospel accounts (Mt. 21:9; Mk. 11:9; Lk. 19:39; Jn. 12:13).  The words from Ps. 118:25, “Lord, save us” literally mean, “save us now,” which is the Hebrew word hosanna.2  Now we know not only where this phrase comes from, but why it would have been on the people’s minds as they approached Jerusalem to celebrate Passover!  Jesus confirmed that this messianic passage referred to himself, when speaking of Jerusalem’s rejection of those the Lord had sent when he said in Matthew 23:39: For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”” (NIV).  

Psalm 118:22-24 is another passage that we hear during Jesus’ final week in Matthew, Mark & Luke (Mt. 21:42; Mk. 12:10-11; Lk. 20:17) In Matthew 21:33f, as Jesus finished His parable of the Tenants, we read: 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “ ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.Matthew 21:42–46 (NIV).  

The nation of Israel was rejected by the Empires of the World, but God chose it, and through Jesus, a descendent of King David, would build a new people.  Jesus was rejected by Israel’s leaders, but chosen by God, demonstrated through His resurrection.  This is what Peter told the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:7-12 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is “ ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”Acts 4:7–12 (NIV).  

  This great truth is what we remember and celebrate: Salvation is found in no one else, there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved than Jesus Christ!  It is through a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ that we can enter into the Lord’s presence – Thank you Lord! 

19 Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. 21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. 22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. 25 Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success! 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. 27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. 28 You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. 29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.Psalm 118:19–29 (NIV).  

Benediction: 18 Lord God of Israel, we praise you. Only you can work miracles. 19 We will always praise your glorious name. Let your glory be seen everywhere on earth. Amen and amen.Psalm 72:18–19 (CEV).