< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: A Study of Hebrews Chapters 11 Part 1

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Study of Hebrews Chapters 11 Part 1

Hebrews Chapter 11 is called the faith chapter. It is to faith what 1 Corinthians 13 is to love.

Hebrews 11:1-3 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

My application Bible likens this to an approaching birthday. Especially for kids. They look forward to it. They know they’ll get presents, but that there will be some surprises. Birthdays combine assurance and anticipation. And so does faith.

Faith is the conviction based on past experience that God’s new and fresh surprises will be ours. Faith is sure and certain. And when we believe God will fulfill His promises even though we don’t see those promises materialize yet, we demonstrate true faith. The word hope in the Bible is a certainty for Christians.

The Christian hope dictates our actions and dominates our attitudes. The whole Christian attitude is that in terms of eternity a man cannot lose by being true to God. We believe God’s promises are true and we act on that belief.

Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

This next part I’ve heard called the honor role of faith and it begins with Abel. Remember back to Genesis 4. Cain was a farmer and Abel a shepherd. They both offered a sacrifice to God. Cain’s from what he grew and Abel’s; an animal. God preferred Abel’s and didn’t accept Cain’s. Cain was jealous and murdered Abel.

The Bible doesn’t say why God preferred Abel’s. It could have been their attitudes when presenting the sacrifices. It could have been that Abel picked a perfect animal with a lot of thought and care and Cain gathered up an armload of grain at the last minute.

Or it could have been that God had already showed them what He expected in a sacrifice and Abel did it and Cain didn’t. Some people say the first sacrifice was after Adam and Eve sinned and God killed an animal to use its skins to make clothes for them. This was the first time blood was shed in the Bible. We do know from the story, that Abel pleased God – that means he was obedient to God - and he was remembered forever for his faith.

Did Cain give God leftovers? Do we give God leftovers? Is what we sacrifice for God pleasing to Him? Is our service pleasing to Him? Or not?

If you weren’t too tired before you went to bed last night, or if you even thought of it, you might have prayed. If you weren’t too busy last week, you might have read your Bible. If the weather isn’t good enough for golf or the lake, you might go to church.

God refuses to be second place in our lives.

God rejected Cain’s apparently apathetic sacrifice. Cain could have had another chance. God told him in Genesis 4:6-7 “Why are you angry? Why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted?” If Cain just misunderstood what God wanted from him, he could have tried again.

But, he didn’t. The Bible says he got angry and he was jealous of Abel and killed him. His heart was wrong all along and God knows our hearts.

Do you ever feel like God is too hard to please? Do you ever wonder why He doesn’t lower His standards to yours? Do you ever get angry that a prayer of yours goes unanswered?

We’ll see in verse 6 that actually, God is impossible to please – if we don’t have faith – and if we don’t do things His way!

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