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hope for churches in stress


“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

When the one true God makes a promise or describes some unseen reality, we can be sure this is true. By faith, we look beyond what we see, focus our attention on God and his promises, and anticipate the good he ordains.

Such faith may be given to us as a gift, a supernatural surge of holy confidence (1 Corinthians 12:9). Or faith can be built up by spiritual conditioning, such as an exercise plan, so to speak, in Hebrews 11:6.

Believe that God exists. Many people do not believe in the God of the Bible. Or they discount God as an active presence in the world. But when all created entities are considered, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, it turns out that most created beings, even the demons, believe in the one true God (James 2:19).

Earnestly seek God. We receive Christ by grace, not works, but we deepen this relationship with intentionality, specifically by spiritual practices. Jesus names three: “And when you give. . . And when you pray . . . And when you fast. . .” (Matthew 6:2,5,16). There are more, with variations, and when we make the effort to build them into our lives, faith grows.

Anticipate a reward. God rewards those who earnestly seek him. To illustrate, the writer of Hebrews cites 16 heroes of faith. Some experience great triumphs. Others encounter appalling hardships. To live by faith assures eternal life (Hebrews 11:35,40). Even in distress, there are outcomes of great worth (Psalms 66:12; Romans 5:3; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; James 1:3; 1 Peter 4:12-14).

Undergirding all of God’s promises are the nature, character, and purposes of God, as we know him through Jesus. Above all, faith is keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, trusting in his goodness for rewards, now and forever, that are incomparably good (Hebrews 12:1-3).

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