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Hebrews 11:5-7 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

Verse 6 tells us that we cannot please God without faith. We must believe that God exists. If this verse were a stand-alone verse many pseudo Christians could claim they have faith because they believe there is some kind of god out there who does good things for people. But this is not the measure of faith this verse is talking about. This verse is refering to the kind of faith that changes our lives. Let us consider the verses that come before and after this verse.

Verse 7 tells of Noah’s faith. Noah believed God when He told him He was going to flood the entire earth. It would be hard enough for us today to believe and trust God enough to start building an ark. But we must consider that the people in Noah’s day had never seen rain. Up to this time, God had used streams of water coming out of the earth to water the land. (Genesis 2:4-6) The first rain recorded in the Bible is the onset of the great flood, a rain that lasted 40 days. Noah’s ark-building project was no simple task either. It consumed his life for possibly 100 years while the corrupt people of his day taunted him.

Verse 5 refers to the faith of Enoch. This man is not as well known as Noah, but he was definitely well known to God. There are four verses that cover Enoch’s life in Genesis 5:21-24 that tell us he was the father of Methuselah, and that he walked with God for 300 years and then was no more. Hebrews 11:5 enlightens us on exactly what that meant – Enoch did not die, but went with God directly to heaven. I imagine it would be like going for a walk with God and deciding not to go home but to stay with him.

Returning to verse 6, I would like to revisit the last part of the verse. God desires to bless those who earnestly seek after him. How richly blessed was Enoch who walked with him until he was no more.

Read the entire chapter of Hebrews 11 to learn of more giants of faith from the Bible, and consider how you might allow God to stretch your own faith.

Father God, help us to grow daily in our faith. Give us courage to accept the situations when our faith will be tested and help us to grow through them. Help us to sincerely and earnestly seek after you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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James 5:7-11 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

James teaches us to be patient when we go through suffering. How easy it is to turn to fretting instead of faith. We are reminded to think like the farmer who has to trust God to send the rain at the right time and trust God with the timing in our lives.

It is also important for us to remember how God uses suffering to build character in his beloved children. We may feel we are being punished, but punishment and discipline are not necessarily the same. Punishment is often the direct response to outright sin and is intended to cause pain or bring justice. God is always working toward the future. He disciplines those he loves (Hebrews 2:6) to prepare them for service in his kingdom. Discipline may not be in response to a great sin, it may be more like sandpaper working on some rough edges. But the end purpose of discipline is to prepare us for service in the future.

James reminds us not to grumble against one another. It is so easy to give in to grumbling when we struggle with the events around us. Our grumbling stands in the face of developing patience and works against us. God is not pleased when we grumble.

Job was a patient man who held to his faith in God against all odds. By looking to Job and others in the Bible such as Joseph in Egypt, we may find the courage and strength to help us persevere in our times of suffering.

Father God, strengthen our hearts when we are hurting. Help us to trust in you for courage and strength.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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James 5:1-6 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

James describes the woes for the wealthy. God doesn’t offer any redeeming words to rich people who obtain their money by taking advantage of the poor. Neither does he condone persons who use all their wealth for self-indulgence. I have occasionally heard wealthy Christians wrestle with what the Bible says about wealth. As I understand the scriptures, both here and elsewhere in the Bible, the bottom line is whether the wealthy hoard for themselves, or hold their riches with open hands asking God to lead them to be good stewards of their wealth in service to his kingdom.

This question may put money in its proper perspective: Does your money own you or do you own your money? If you are consumed in worrying about your money (even your lack of it) that you can’t joyfully serve the Lord with it, then your money owns you.

I find it interesting that this passage isn’t one of the familiar passages we hear frequently in the pulpit or even in our Sunday school literature. James 5 was the passage for last Sunday’s lesson, but the writer of our literature ignored it completely and began with verse 7 to build his lesson. Read the passage again. James doesn’t mince words to avoid offending the wealthy.

Father God, Help us to hold our finances and possessions with open hands that we may serve you with our whole hearts. Give us the courage to make the changes in our hearts and lives that would be pleasing to you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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