A sermon idea based on Hebrews 11:29-12:2.
Hebrews 11:29-12:2 NRSV
 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned.  By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days.  By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.
 And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—  who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions,  quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.  Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection.  Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented—  of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
 Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised,  since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.
[12:1] Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
The relevant topic I would be addressing, based on this text…
Faith isn’t always about getting what we want by believing that we’ll get it. Rather, faith is about getting closer to God as we trust that he isn’t finished working in, around, or through us.
Information about the text that matters to the message…
There are two big truths about life and one big truth about following Jesus in this passage.
Sometimes in life, we grow closer to God as we overcome adversity by acting in obedience toward God by faith.
- The obstacle is removed (the Red Sea experience).
- The walls fell (Jericho).
- Lives are spared (Rahab).
- Kingdoms are conquered.
- Justice is administered.
- The mouths of lions are stopped.
- The dead are raised.
Sometimes in life, we grow closer to God as we trust His bigger picture by having faith in spite of our adversity.
- We experience loss.
- We endure persecution.
- We are talked about and plotted against.
The point isn’t seeing a change in our circumstances. The point is seeing change happening inside of us as we grow closer to God through our obedient faith.
SIDE NOTE: It is not comforting when we explain away the pain and suffering of others by simply saying that “God must have a plan.” What IS comforting is to know that, even when you suffer, God is with you and never gives up on his eternal vision for your life.
Either way, whether we experience circumstantial deliverance or not, Jesus is the model of a life of faith, and the more we learn to trust God, the more we become like Jesus.
- Perseverance is the point.
- Jesus perfected a persevering faith even through crucifixion.
- Jesus trusted that after all the suffering, joy would be the final outcome in God’s timing.
The more life you live, trusting God along the way, through both the victory and adversity you experience, the
The big call-to-action in the message…
Is there an area of life where you’re struggling to trust that God is still working? Whether or not he ever changes your adverse circumstances, you can be assured that if you obey him faithfully through this season, you’re going to grow closer to him and more like Jesus.
About the Cover Art: Central part of the ceiling of the Galerie des Batailles at the Palace of Versailles, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.