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“Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.” Hebrews 11:11-12 (Read Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7)

Do you have faith like Sarah? Do you question God’s promises and have doubts but are then moved to believe?

Certainly, Sarah doubted God’s promise at the first and even laughed at the thought. After all, how could she, when she was 90 years old and past her child-bearing years, give birth to a son in her old age? And how could Abraham, 99 years old, have a son by her? But, “is any thing too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:14).

But God’s promise moved her to trust. And, she gave birth to Isaac (which means laughter) when Abraham was 100 years old and she about 90. And, through Isaac, God’s promises were fulfilled to make Abraham’s descendants as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. And through Isaac God fulfilled His promise to make Abraham a blessing to all the people of the world, to send the promised Seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent and undo the work of Satan (Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4-5).

Sarah’s faith reminds us of the faith of another woman in another promise – related to this promise but also impossible according to human understanding and natural law – Mary, a virgin, would conceive in her womb and bring forth a Son who would redeem His people Israel from their sins and be the Savior of the world (cf. Luke 1:26ff.; Matthew 1:18ff.).

Mary questioned the angel, saying, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34). The angel answered her: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God … For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:35,37). And Mary’s doubts were overcome by faith in God’s promise. She responded: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). And, of course, God fulfilled His promise to send His Son to be our Savior (Luke 2:1ff.).

God also promises to us what is by nature’s laws impossible – redemption by Christ’s death and resurrection, forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ Jesus, our resurrection and eternal life in heaven for Jesus’ sake. We question how this can be, but the Holy Spirit uses God’s promises to work in us faith to believe His words to us are true: that Christ died for our sins and rose again on the third day (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4); that God justifies and forgives us sinners, counting us righteous in His sight, when we simply trust in Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world (cf. Romans 3:21-26; John 3:14-15; 1 John 1:5 – 2:2); that Christ washes away our sins and gives us His Holy Spirit in the waters of baptism (cf. Acts 22:16; Titus 3:4-7; Colossians 2:11-15); that Christ gives to us in His Supper to partake of His body and blood given and shed for us for the remission of all our sins (cf. Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23ff.); that Christ will raise up our bodies from the dust on the Last Day and give to us and all believers eternal life with Him in heaven (cf. Job 19:25-27; Psalm 17:15; 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff.; 1 Corinthians 15:51ff.;). “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).

O gracious and merciful God, pardon our unbelief when Your promises seem impossible to us, and strengthen our faith to believe Your Word and to live our lives trusting in all that You offer and promise to us in Christ Jesus. Grant this to us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.” Psalm 95:7b-11

Will you enter God’s eternal rest, or are you hardening your heart against Him? God’s Word comes to you. You have it in your Bible, and it is still preached by faithful ministers; but will you hear it and believe it?

The Children of Israel heard God’s words through Moses and even directly from God Himself on Mt. Sinai. They saw God’s mighty works in Egypt, at the Red Sea and in the wilderness. But did they believe? Did they trust in the LORD God to lead and guide them, provide for them in their journeys and bring them safely into the Promised Land? The answer is, No! Again and again, they grumbled and complained. Again and again, they disobeyed the commandments of the LORD. And, when it was time to go up and take possession of the land the LORD was giving them, they doubted God’s Word to them and wanted to return to Egypt. Therefore, because of their unbelief, they did not enter into the promised rest.

Now, the Word of the LORD comes to you. It calls you to repent of your sinful ways and rebellion against the LORD and receive forgiveness and life through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, God’s own dear Son. Will you hear God’s Word? Will you acknowledge your utter sinfulness and rebelliousness before the LORD? Will you come to God and trust in Him to receive you and forgive you of all your sins because Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God in human flesh, fulfilled the righteous demands of God’s law for you and then bore your punishment upon the cross and rose again?

If you refuse to repent and turn to the Lord Jesus for mercy, you go astray in your heart. You do not know the way of the LORD, and you will not enter into His eternal rest! But if you humble yourself before the LORD, hear His Word and believe, you will receive of His mercy and be blessed with the eternal joys of heaven for Jesus’ sake!

LORD God, have mercy upon us and grant that we do not harden our hearts against You and the truth of Your Word. By Your Holy Spirit, grant us true repentance and faith In Jesus Christ our Savior. In His name, we pray. Amen.

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“O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand….” Psalm 95:1-7a

In Hosea 8:14, we read that “Israel hath forgotten his Maker.” They were still a religious people, but they had forgotten who the LORD God was and how to worship and serve Him.

These words are not only true of Old Testament Israel at the time of Hosea the prophet; they are true of us today. As a nation and people – even as the outward, visible church – we have forgotten our Maker and we neglect to give Him the glory and praise due unto His name.

We need to remember that “the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3).

In spite of man’s attempts to escape this fact, the truth still remains that the LORD (Jehovah) God of the Bible (the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost) has created us and all things by His almighty word (Genesis 1-2; Nehemiah 9:6). It is He who formed us in our mothers’ wombs and gave us life (Ps. 139:13-16), and He it is who sustains our lives (cf. Psalm 145:15-16).

And, not only is He the Creator and Sustainer of all things, He gave His only begotten Son and redeemed us through the innocent sufferings and death of Christ Jesus that we might have forgiveness for all our sins and again be alive to Him and worship His name (cf. Psalm 130:7-8; John. 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10; Romans 5:8-11).

Isn’t it about time we remember our Creator; look to Him to forgive our sins for the sake of the holy life and bitter sufferings and death of the Son, Christ Jesus, and then worship and serve Him with our lives?

If we do not humbly kneel before Him now, we shall be humbled and kneel before Him on the Last Day when He executes His judgment upon all people (cf. Philippians 2:5-11; Psalm 2).

O Almighty God, our Maker and Redeemer, for the sake of Christ Jesus, our Savior, forgive us for our many sins against You, and grant that we might kneel before You and worship You both now and forevermore in heaven! Amen.

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“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Life in this world is full of trouble and heartache. In addition to the sickness, pain and death which all face, there is the persecution and suffering which those who follow Christ Jesus can expect in this world from those who continue in impenitence and rebellion against the LORD God who created and redeemed them.

Before His betrayal, arrest and crucifixion, Jesus attempted to prepare His disciples for what lay ahead. They were about to witness His passion and death on the cross and all would look hopeless to them because of their unbelief and hardness of heart. Though they would see Him again, alive from the dead, He would no longer be present with them in the same manner as He had been over the months and years before (Cf. John 16:19-20). And they too would suffer much from the enemies of Christ as they proclaimed His Word and doctrine in the world (Cf. John 16:1-5).

Jesus did not want His disciples’ faith to be shaken and destroyed by what was to come. He wanted them to continue to trust in Him and have peace in Him. Jesus warned His followers ahead of time so that when all these things came to pass, they would hold fast to Him with the confidence that in Him they had forgiveness and in Him they had life everlasting in the mansions of His Father’s house (Cf. John 14:1ff.).

These words of comfort are for you and me too as we face tribulation and suffering in this world. We will face hardships and trouble. As Paul wrote, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). We should expect no less as we follow Christ and bear witness to the truth of His Word.

But though we must endure tribulation in this world, we can have peace in Christ Jesus. He has redeemed us from sin and death by His own innocent sufferings and death in our stead and He has risen again in victory. In Him we too have the victory. In Him we have pardon and peace – forgiveness for all our sins. In Him we have the assurance that we too shall be raised up unto life everlasting.

In the world we shall have tribulation. Being a Christian and follower of Jesus will not bring a life or ease and worldly peace, but we have peace in Jesus. We can be of good cheer whatever comes our way because Jesus, our Savior, has overcome the world. In Him we have the final victory. In Him we have the everlasting joys of heaven!

Remember, Jesus said: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Dearest Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of life You won for me by Your innocent sufferings and death in my stead. Graciously keep me in Your peace. Let me hold fast to You and Your Word and trust in You for pardon and life everlasting. Amen.

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“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Hebrews 11:8-10 (Read Genesis 12)

James wrote (James 2:18): “Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” And most certainly, we see Abraham’s faith by his works.

It is as we read in Genesis 12:1-3, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

And how did Abram respond? Genesis 12:4-5 says: “So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.”

After going as far as Haran and staying there until his father died (Acts 7:2ff.), Abram heeded God’s command and promise and traveled to the land of Canaan, where he lived as a stranger – never possessing more than a field and cave for a burial place – but trusted God’s promise that his descendants would possess the land and that God would fulfill His promises to make of him a great nation and through his Seed to bless all the nations of the world (cf. Genesis 12:1-3; 13:14ff.; 15:5-6; 17:3-8; 22:15-18).

It was by faith that Abraham moved to this new, foreign land and dwelt there – because he believed God’s promises and trusted that God would fulfill all His words and promises and send One who would redeem him and all mankind from sin and its punishment. As we read, Abraham “believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).

Do you have faith like Abraham? You say you have faith in God and His promises, but what has that faith moved you to do? You say you believe that Christ Jesus died for all your sins and rose again; does that faith move you to live in the confidence that God is merciful and forgives you all your sins through faith in Jesus’ name? Cf. Romans 1:16-17; 5:1-2. You say you believe that Jesus will come again and raise up all who died to give to all who trust in Him eternal life in heaven, but do you fear death? Cf. 1 Corinthians 15; 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff.

You say you believe that God will provide for all your needs. Do you fret and worry? Cf. Matthew 6:25ff. You say you believe that God will care for you and bless you if you trust Him and give generously and sacrificially to the work of His kingdom, but do you give as He has blessed you? Cf. Proverbs 3:9-10.

You say you believe God’s commandments and the teaching of His Word are good and right, but do you trust God’s Word enough to shun sin and resist evil and false doctrine to walk in His ways? Cf. Proverbs 3:5-8; 8:13.

Perhaps God has called you to enter into His service as a pastor, teacher or missionary. Perhaps He has called you to leave your family and homeland and travel to some faraway place to serve Him and bear witness to Christ Jesus? Do you follow His leading, trusting that He will care for you and provide for all your needs?

Indeed, the list could go on. Abraham had faith in the LORD God and His promises, but that faith also moved Abraham to act. He left his homeland and his people and sojourned in a foreign land, trusting that God had a better plan and that God would fulfill His promises. As the writer to the Hebrews states, Abraham “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

And so, the question follows: “What about you and me?” We trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and His blood shed for us upon the cross for our salvation. We look forward to our eternal home in heaven which is given us for Jesus’ sake. Do we live out our faith? Do we live for the kingdom of God? Or, do we live for this world and the pleasures of this world? Are we living in accord with our professed faith? Are we looking “for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God”? Cf. 1 John 2:15ff.; James 4:4.

Once again, the Bible tells us: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves” (2 Corinthians 13:5). And when we do, we see our sinfulness, our failings to live and walk by faith. We see our need to repent and look to Jesus and His cross for forgiveness, and then also for the help and strength to amend our ways and walk by faith.

And, in Jesus there is forgiveness, and in Jesus there is life. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “Jesus Christ the righteous … is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1,2). And God tells us: “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye” (Psalm 32:8; cf. Psalm 32:1ff.).

O dearest Jesus, forgive us for our failures to truly trust You and live our lives in that faith. Have mercy upon us for the sake of your shed blood. Cleanse us from our sin and move us to live by faith, trusting in You alone for forgiveness and life, and living our lives here in this world in faith, looking “for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Amen.

Centered paragraph.

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