Friday Morning Devotion (From Faith to Faithfulness)

35Don’t throw away your boldness, which brings a great reward. 36For you need endurance, so that when you have done God’s will, you can receive the promise.

37“Yet in a very little while, the one who is coming will come and will not delay. 38But my righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back, My soul will have no pleasure in him.” [Habakkuk 2:3,4]

39But we are not people whose timidity results in destruction, but ones whose faith preserves their life. 1Now faith is the substantial nature to things we hope for, the clear conviction of things we don’t see. 2By this means the elders were approved.

3By faith we understand that the universe was made by the word of God, so that things which are seen didn’t come out of things already visible. — Hebrews 10:35-11:3

Chapter divisions in the Bible can be extremely dangerous. They make us think that a whole new topic is coming up just like chapter titles in a novel, but in fact they can conceal a connection. When you read your Bible, remember that the chapter divisions and the verses were added long after the book was written.

A major topic of Hebrews is the need to keep on pressing forward, to endure, so that we can enter into the rest that God has provided for us. Most of us are acquainted with Hebrews 11, the “faith” chapter, which tells us stories of Old Testament heroes and their faith walk with God. (Listen to Jody Neufeld talk about Hebrews 11 here, or read more about it here.)

Hebrews 11:1 is often used as a definition of faith, and at first glance it looks like that is what the author of Hebrews is trying to do—define faith. But if you look more closely, he is talking about things that faith does and where it works in our life and our Christian experience. To make this clearer, let me quote it from the Revised English Bible:

Faith gives substance to our hopes and convinces us of realities we do not see.

While the translation I did and provided at the beginning of this devotional is more literal, the REB gets the “feel” of this passage better. When you read across the chapter division, you find that our author has just brought home his key point: We have to keep moving boldly and faithfully forward. In Hebrews 10:39 we should read “faith” more like “faithfulness.” But they are tied together.

We start with believing. We believe that God exists. We believe that he sent Jesus to die for us.

Our belief generates hope. Perhaps only a little bit of hope at first, but we have a hope we didn’t have before.

Hope leads us to move forward, and as we move forward, as we “live by faith,” as we endure, we gain in faith.

Faith gives substance to our hopes. As we both believe and remain faithful, faith acts. It makes our hopes real, even before they arrive. It convinces us of realities that we don’t see yet.

Faith and hope—twin drivers of a faithful life.

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