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The Twelfth (Staying Strong)

This week is about keeping your faith, in the tough times and not-so-tough times. When someone questions it, and when someone genuinely wants to know about it. When you are given a choice between denying it and proclaiming it.

It's easy to sit in the comfort of our home and be confident in the strength of our faith, but the real test is when it gets challenged. Much like studying for a final exam, or preparing for a practical, we can go over the material and memorize and internalize it, but sometimes we get to the first question during the examination and all that preparation falls apart.

You can see the world and where it's headed, and it's clear we, the believers, are in the minority. We all know it's only going to get worse, and we need to be prepared for when the strength of our faith truly gets tested. The fact that even Peter, which some could argue was Jesus' closest disciple, failed his test not once but three times doesn't inspire confidence in we who have not even seen Him! (Matt 26:35,69-75)

We worship a kind and loving God, though. One that has our back! He knows what we're going to go through and He's trying to help us in any way He can. He will strengthen us and help us (Isaiah 41:10), He will keep us from being tempted beyond our ability, and He will give us an escape (1 Cor 10:13). He even prepares us for trials to come (Psalm 66:10, Proverbs 17:3, 1 Peter 1:6-7).

But what is faith? How can we keep something, and be strong in it, if we don't know what it is? It's the conviction and assurance in things that we haven't seen and things we hope for (Heb 11:1). Well that clears it up! What is the writer of Hebrews even talking about here? Sometimes we have to look to a previous chapter to get a complete picture since chapters and verses were not originally in the text. When we do that in this case, we see that the saving of the soul is part of it (Heb 10:39). The hope that our soul will be saved is something that can give us encouragement through tough times and the strength to do what we know is right but may be the hardest thing we've ever had to do.

Faith is also a conviction in the word of God and it's truth (Heb 11:3). The writer goes through the gamut of faith inspired works in Hebrews 11. Things he most certainly didn't see, but nonetheless believed they happened as written. Our faith includes the belief in Jesus. Not only in His existence, but also in Him being the Son of God, His resurrection, and that His death is the sacrifice that cleanses our unrighteousness (Rom 3:21-24). But we have a promise by the Son of God Himself, that we will be blessed for our belief without having seen Him ourselves (John 20:29)!

We have a lot of promises in God's Word about what will happen if we stay strong in our faith: A crown of life (James 1:12, Rev 2:10), praise, glory and honor (1 Peter 1:7), perfection (1 Peter 5:10). We also have warnings for if we fail to remain strong and deny Him (1 John 2:23, Matthew 10:33, 2 Timothy 2:12).

So don't be surprised if things get tough, there seems to be something fighting against you, or you get challenged in your faith. In fact, we're told to be happy (1 Peter 4:12-13)! To me, it shows I'm on the right path (either in what I believe or that I need to study it further) and gives me confidence, strengthening my faith in God's promises to me. Remember, you're not in it alone. We are all in this together as the body of Christ, and God is with us (Rom 5:3-5, Joshua 1:9, Isaiah 41:10, Deuteronomy 31:6, Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 13:5).

Love you all and God bless you!

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