Sermon:  Faith that Moves You (pt 4)


Summary:  True faith stubbornly perseveres in victories and in the face of extreme peril and excruciating challenges because it tenaciously clings to the expectation that God will not only fulfill his promises in due time, but also recognizes that each of us, like those who have gone before us, have a role toward the fulfillment of God's promises.  Through faithful perseverance of faith we gain God's approval and become a building block in the plan.


Know:  We are an integral part of God's plan in bringing about the fulfillment of his promises.


Feel:  Motivated


Do:  Reflect on the ways various people in this text, whether mentioned by name or not by name, played a part in the fulfillment of God's promises.  Discuss New Testament scriptures that indicate God is not through with fulfilling his promises, that the best is yet to come and is still taking shape, and identify the way we today may play a role in the fulfillment of God's plan and promises.  Identify what specific roles we play as a congregation, as a group, and individually.


Text:  Heb 11:32-40


Scripture Reading:  1 Pet 2:6



1.  Can you identify with the feeling of unfulfilled expectation? 

            a.  What does it feel like?  What do you do?

            b.  Maybe it is like the gift you expected to receive

                        - The day comes, get other gifts, but not the one you expected

                        - Do you give up hope?  Do you despair?

                        - Maybe it is delayed, maybe it will come later?

            c.  You have a choice.  Can give up hoping, or you can keep hoping

2.  This is the choice faced by many of those mentioned in today's text

            a.  Promise was made to Abraham in 2000 B.C.

            b.  Not fulfilled right away.  Not next year, next decade, or during his life

                        - So promised passed to next generation

                        - Had to be reaffirmed to Isaac.  Then Jacob

                        - As generations passed, the promise grew in detail

            c.  Along the way, there were many threats and challenges

                        - Conflict international powers - Egypt, Assyria, Bablyon, Aram, etc

                        - Internal conflict - Divided kingdom, unfaithfulness to covenant,

                           revolts, civil wars

                        - Nation became a vassal state to dominating power - Babylon,

                          Greeks, or Romans - came with persecutions

            d.  Do you still dare to hope?

                        - Perhaps God wont or can't keep his promise?

                        - Perhaps we ought to trust in someone other than God?

                        - It has been thousands of years!

                        - NEVER!  Say those in this text.  We will remain strong in faith

3.  Chapter 11 reminds us of those who were strong in faith no matter what

            a.  Abraham lived around 2100 B.C.   - Promise made to him

                        - 2000 years before Christ came

                        - Lot happened in 2000 years

                        - Imagine waiting that long, with all the dangers in between!

            b.  Some waiting longer than 2000 years!

                        - What about Abel, Enoch, Noah, all mentioned in this chapter

                        - The lived long before Abraham

                        - God promised to crush the power of the serpent through the

                          woman's seed

            c.  WHEN will God fulfill his promise? 

                        - Don't know date or time

                        - We do know God will keep his promise

4.  Hebrews 11 has reminded us what it means to trust God's promises

            a.  Moves us to worship, walk with God, work, invest in future, stand with

                  our God and with God's people

            b.  Last part of chapter rapid fires through many, many examples of faith

            c.  (Heb 11:32-40) - Faith stubbornly perseveres at all times.  How? 

                 Recognition of three things:

                        - Faith leads us to both victories and extreme danger and hardship

                        - The fulfillment of God's promise may be in distant future

                        - We each are a building block in God's plan to fulfill his promise


I.  Recognize that faith leads to both victories and hardship

            A.  Living a life of faith does not eliminate hardship

            B.  ILL:  Many have the wrong idea.

                        1.  One popular preacher preaches this:

                                    a.  It not God's will for you to learn to live with your illnesses,

                                         or in poverty or suffering

                                    b.  You need to have faith, & become what you believe

                                    c.  Decide to get better, believe you can become a better you

                                    d.  In other words - Lack of faith is the reason for hardship

                        2.  This is a message preached by many people

                                    a.  Faith means victory

                                    b.  Suffering, poverty, etc. all are results of a lack of faith

            C.  This is in direct contradiction to both experience and scripture

                        1.  People all over the world have suffered and still are

                                    a.  In Africa, South America, North Korea, Middle East, India

                                    b.  Some struck with poverty, some maimed, killed

                                    c.  Not because of a LACK of faith, but strong faith

                        2.  Text rapid fires through examples that show BOTH victory and

                              hardship through faith

                                    a.  Names several by names - not perfect, but had faith

                                                - Gideon - Defeated Midianite army with 300 men

                                                - Barak - Victory over Sisera & Canaanites

                                                - Samson - Took out 3,000 Philistines at end of life

                                                - Jephthah - Victory over the Ammonites

                                                - David - Victory over Goliath, Philistines, King

                                                - Samuel - Lead people in victory over Philistines, set

                                                  up "Ebenezer" - stone of help, anointed first king

                                    b.  Mentions the "prophets" - One of most prominent is Elijah

                                                - Elijah defeated false prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel

                                                - On the run from Jezebel, but prophesied against her

                                    c.  Mentions the acts of the faithful

                                                - Think of David conquering, Daniel and the lions

                                                - Think of widow of Zarephath and her son who Elijah

                                                   raised from the dead, or Elisha and Shunnamite

                                                - Some descriptions - Maccabean times? 2 Mac 6:18f

                        3.  Faith can lead to victory or extreme excruciating hardship

                                    a.  Object of faith is not what Word of Faith preachers say

                                                - It is not a life of prosperity without sickness

                                                - If so, then Christians around the world who suffer

                                                  are all faithless people

                                    b.  Object of faith is devotion and trust in God no matter what

                                    c.  May suffer BECAUSE of our faith in Christ

                        4.  (1 Pet 3:13-16)

                                    a.  If you do suffer for righteousness . . . what does it say?

                                    b.  What it does not say

                                                - Does not say, "pray hard for God to remove it"

                                                - Does not say, "it is because you have weak faith"

                                    c.  What it does say

                                                - You are blessed, do not fear their intimidation

                                                - Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts

                                                            = Not the governing authorities

                                                            = Not your family tradition

                                                - Always be ready to make a defense to them

                                                            = Be ready to explain yourself

                                                            = Talking about being emotionally ready

                                                - Like they did in Acts, you explain the Gospel

                                    d.  Some will accept it, other indifferent, others hostile

            D.  Understand our faith is in God, not in how people might respond

                        1.  Things could go well, or things could become hostile

                        2.  Regardless, we maintain our faith in God

                        3.  We are looking to what God will do


II.  Recognize that the fulfillment of God's promise may be very distant

            A.  It may never happen in our lifetime

            B.  All of these people in the text did not receive the promise  (v.39)

                        1.  There were times people wondered if the promise was dead

                                    a.  Glory of God visibly left the temple in Ezekiel

                                    b.  Jerusalem vulnerable, Babylon destroyed it

                                                - Stripped and destroyed the temple

                                                - Carried people away in captivity to Babylon

                                    c.  Lived in captivity in Babylon

                                                - Many received Babylonian names

                                                - Learned Babylonian literature and history

                                                - Served the kings of Babylon

                                    d.  All of this brought a crisis of faith

                                                - Are they still the people of God?

                                                - Without Jerusalem, or temple, how can they serve

                                                  and worship God faithfully?

                                                - Psalm 137:1-6 - But they will never forget

                                                - Jewish scholarship and literature flourished in


                        2.  Ezekiel 37 - A vision that reminds people God is not done

                                    a.  Valley of dry bones came back to life when prophesied

                                    b.  What does this mean?

                                    c.  (Ezek 37:11-14) - Nation died when deported, but God

                                         will bring them back

                        3.  We know prophesies of restoration much larger than Israel

                                    a.  God will establish his kingdom with an anointed king

                                    b.  God will give his people a home to live in safely

                                    c.  Wolf will dwell with the lamb, children play with vipers

                                    d.  All of this is talking about Jesus' eternal kingdom, our

                                         eternal home

            C.  ILL:  Is Jesus going to return?  When?

                        1.  Early Christians expected Jesus to come back during their life

                                    a.  At one point, they worried about those who died before

                                         he returned

                                    b.  1 Thess 4 said they will raise from the grave

                        2.  There have been many who thought he would return soon

                                    a.  Here are some dates offered through history:  381, 500,

                                         950, 1000, 1757, 1829, 1844, 1874, 1914, 1975, 1981,

                                         2000, 2007, 2008, 2012

                                    b.  After all these false alarms, is he really coming back?

                        3.  2000 years ago he said he was coming back

                        4.  (2 Pet 3:1-9) - Lord is not slow about his promise as some count

                             slowness, but is patient - giving time to repent

            D.  Fulfillment of his promises may be in the distant future

                        1.  There are still tribes the Gospel has not reached

                        2.  God wants everyone to have a chance to hear

                        3.  We ought to regard God's patience as salvation

                        4.  In the meantime, we have a job to do


III.  Recognize we each have a role in God's plan

            A.  Each of us are a building block in the fulfillment of God's promise

            B.  In the text, each of these had a role

                        1.  These played important roles in the fulfillment of God's plan

                                    a.  Noah, saved from the flood in the Ark

                                    b.  Abraham, became ancestor of God's people

                                    c.  Moses, lead the people out of bondage, gave covenant

                                    d.  Rahab, great great grandmother of King David

                                    e.  David, king who became image of ideal King

                        2.  May think, "They are heroes, I'm no hero"

                                    a.  Need to remember that these were ordinary people

                                    b.  David anointed while still a child

                                    c.  Moses was a common shepherd

                        3.  As ordinary people, they each had a role to play in God's plan

                        4.  1 Pet 2:5 - We as living stones being built up as spiritual house

            C.  ILL:  We are "being" built - God is not finished yet

                        1.  Each brick goes in, and set in place by mortar, which is faith

                                    a.  Mortar is our faith

                                    b.  Mortar makes us strong, keeps us in place

                        2.  Each brick built on top of another

                                    a.  Those who have gone before us support our faith

                                    b.  We draw encouragement and strength from them

                                    c.  Those before us help to hold us up

                                    d.  They may not have fully understood their role, but in

                                          retrospect, we do

                        3.  Those who come after us will be supported by us

                                    a.  We have a role toward the completion of God's plan

                                    b.  God fulfills his promises using us

                                    c.  We each have a role!!

                        4.  Notice what text said (Heb 11:39-40)

                                    a.  Those who have gone before incomplete without us

                                    b.  You don't build a half wall then stop

                                    c.  Build all the way, then complete with a roof

                                    d.  We help to complete the fulfillment of God's plan!

            D.  Each of you have a role to play

                        1.  May still be thinking, "Those people are heroes, I'm not"

                        2.  Take a closer look at some of these in chapter 11

                                    a.  Noah got drunk and passed out

                                    b.  Abraham lied about his wife twice

                                    c.  Moses had a speech impediment

                                    d.  Rahab was a harlot

                                    e.  Jephthah was impulsive

                                    f.  Barak was a wimp

                                    g.  Samuel was a poor father

                                    h.  etc. etc. etc.

                        3.  These were no heroes - GOD is the hero

                        4.  God does not call extraordinary people, but calls ordinary people

                             to believe in an extraordinary God



1.  Our extraordinary God has provided a means for redemption (inv)

2.  What is your role in the fulfillment of God's promises?

            a.  Serving others as Jesus did?  We all are called to serve

            b.  Raising faithful children?  Not everyone called to be parents

            c.  Using an ability, resources to serve God and other?

            d.  Share the Gospel in the manner that Jesus did?

3.  If God work through these in chapter 11, he will also work through you because of your faith in God


Small Group Notes:  Faith that Moves You (pt 4)


Summary:  True faith stubbornly perseveres in victories and in the face of extreme peril and excruciating challenges because it tenaciously clings to the expectation that God will not only fulfill his promises in due time, but also recognizes that each of us, like those who have gone before us, have a role toward the fulfillment of God's promises.  Through faithful perseverance of faith we gain God's approval and become a building block in the plan.




- Name an important role you play (could be at work, school, home, community, or church)



Explore:  Heb 11:32-40


1.  Select some of the people mentioned in the chapter and how they played a role toward the completion and fulfillment of God's plan and promises.


2.  Were these people extraordinary or ordinary?  What flaws did they have?


3.  What do you make of the statement at the end of the chapter that these "died in faith" and "did not receive what was promised?"  Was their faith in vain?  Why?


4.  How were these people incomplete?  What does this imply about them and about us?


5.  1 Peter 2:4-10.  What does the analogy of ourselves as living stones teach us about our role in the completion of God's plan? 





6.  How would your respond to statements such as, "I'm no hero" or "I'm nobody" or a similar sentiment?


7.  What roles do you fill, or can you fill as a living stone being built up toward the completion and fulfillment of God's plan?   As a congregation?  As a small group?  As an individual? 


8.  In what way do you find encouragement or motivation in this lesson?