Influencers Devotionals, Blog

Real Faith by Bryan Craig

December 6, 2022

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.  Hebrews 11:32-34 ESV

Maybe you have heard Hebrews Chapter 11 called the “Hall of Faith” chapter in the Bible?  It is a “Who’s Who” list of great men and women of Faith throughout Scripture.  It even starts out with a definition of Faith…Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  When God was making it clear to me that I was being called to join Influencers full-time as a vocational minister, He started with the beginning of Hebrews 12, which said… Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…”  This prompted me to go back and read Chapter 11.  As I was considering the biggest step of faith I had ever attempted, I soaked up this account of people lauded for their faith.  I thought to myself, “I want to be like them.”

I mean, these people, because of their faith:

  • Conquered kingdoms.
  • Enforced justice.
  • Obtained promises.
  • Stopped the mouths of lions.
  • Quenched the power of fire.
  • Escaped the edge of the sword.
  • Were made strong out of weakness.
  • Became mighty in war.
  • Put foreign armies in flight.

Wow!  The Braveheart inside of me wants to yell a guttural scream “Freedom!”  or exclaim, “That’s what I’m talking about!”  Yes, Faith can lead to amazing conquests.  Sign me up!

But wait, there’s more.  Verses 35-38 tells more of the story:

  • Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so they might rise again to a better life.
  • Others suffered mocking and flogging, even chains and imprisonment.
  • Some were stoned, sawn in two or killed by the sword.
  • Some went around destitute, afflicted, mistreated, wearing skins of sheep and goats.
  • Some wandered about in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

And lastly, it says:

All of these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.  Hebrews 11:39-40

Hmmm.  I sit back in my chair and pause for a moment.  This is Faith?  I think of a friend of mine who has had one punch in the gut after another in his life, and he’s struggling to hang onto his faith in the midst of it all.  I think of messages I’ve heard through the years which paint the life of faith as one of victory, wealth, health, abundance.  Hmmm?  Did they read the Hall of Faith chapter?  I think of my own life and how there always seems to be some sort of challenge, either within or from outside forces, or just an ever present tension of always feeling like I’ve not arrived in my spiritual walk.  And by the way, I test high in Faith on the Spiritual Gifts assessment.

By the grace and power of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, I am inspired by Hebrews 11.  And though I know I will suffer for my Faith…that’s a promise…I love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.  I trust Him absolutely!   And I take the advice of the Hebrews writer who says in Hebrews 12… let us lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and run with endurance my race…BUT MOST OF ALL…keep my eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of my faith, who endured a cross, despising its shame and now lives in joy at the right hand of God. 

Jesus is my hero.  And nothing I ever go through will compare to what He endured FOR ME.  And He sent His Spirit so that I would never be alone in my struggles.  He will never leave me nor forsake me. 

So, my brothers and sisters, this is Faith.  Real Faith.  Don’t be afraid.  Abide with Him and let Him use you in supernatural ways to leave your mark on this dark world.  And if you have to suffer, count it all Joy, for you are living the kind of Faith that is written about in Scripture.