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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Take heart!

NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed)
               of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see  and  the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real
               fact what is not revealed to the senses].  By faith we understand that the worlds [during the successive
               ages] were framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose)
               by the word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are
               visible.  [Prompted, actuated] by faith Abel brought God a better and
               more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, because of which it was testified of him that
               he was righteous [that he was upright and in right standing with God], and God bore
               witness by accepting  and  acknowledging his gifts. And though
               he died, yet [through the incident] he is still speaking.   Because of faith Enoch was caught up  and  transferred to heaven, so that he did not have a glimpse of death; and
               he was not found, because God had translated him. For even before he was taken to
               heaven, he received testimony [still on record] that he had pleased  and  been satisfactory to God.   But without faith it is impossible to please  and  be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must
               [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who
               earnestly  and  diligently seek Him [out].  [Prompted] by faith Noah, being forewarned by God concerning
               events of which as yet there was no visible sign, took heed  and  diligently  and  reverently constructed  and  prepared an ark for the deliverance of his own family. By
               this [his faith which relied on God] he passed judgment  and
               sentence on the world's unbelief and became an heir  and
               possessor of righteousness (that relation of being right into which God puts the
               person who has faith).   [Urged on] by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and
               went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he
               went, although he did not know  or  trouble his mind about
               where he was to go.  So from one man, though he was physically as good as dead,
               there have sprung descendants whose number is as the stars of heaven and as
               countless as the innumerable sands on the seashore.   These people all died controlled  and
               sustained by their faith, but not having received the tangible fulfillment of
               [God's] promises, only having seen it  and  greeted it from a
               great distance by faith, and all the while acknowledging  and
               confessing that they were strangers  and  temporary residents
                    and  exiles upon the earth.   [Aroused] by faith Moses, when he had grown to maturity  and  become great, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's
               daughter,   Because he preferred to share the oppression [suffer the
               hardships]  and  bear the shame of the people of God rather
               than to have the fleeting enjoyment of a sinful life.  He considered the contempt  and  abuse
                    and  shame [borne for] the Christ (the Messiah Who was to
               come) to be greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt, for he looked forward
                    and  away to the reward (recompense).  [Motivated] by faith he left Egypt behind him, being unawed
                    and  undismayed by the wrath of the king; for he never
               flinched  but  held staunchly to his purpose  and  endured steadfastly as one who gazed on Him Who is invisible.   By faith (simple trust and confidence in God) he instituted
                    and  carried out the Passover and the sprinkling of the
               blood [on the doorposts], so that the destroyer of the firstborn (the angel) might
               not touch those [of the children of Israel].   And what shall I say further? For time would fail me to tell
               of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets,   Who by [the help of] faith subdued kingdoms, administered
               justice, obtained promised blessings, closed the mouths of lions,   Extinguished the power of raging fire, escaped the devourings
               of the sword, out of frailty  and  weakness won strength  and  became stalwart, even mighty  and
               resistless in battle, routing alien hosts.   [Some] women received again their dead by a resurrection.
               Others were tortured to death with clubs, refusing to accept release [offered on the
               terms of denying their faith], so that they might be resurrected to a better life.
               [I Kings 17:17-24; II Kings 4:25-37.]  They were stoned to death; they were lured with tempting
               offers [to renounce their faith]; they were sawn asunder; they were slaughtered by
               the sword; [while they were alive] they had to go about wrapped in the skins of
               sheep and goats, utterly destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated--  [Men] of whom the world was not worthy--roaming over the
               desolate places and the mountains, and [living] in caves  and
               caverns and holes of the earth.  And all of these, though they won divine approval by [means
               of] their faith, did not receive the fulfillment of what was promised,  Because God had us in mind  and  had
               something better  and  greater in view for us, so that they
               [these heroes and heroines of faith] should not come to perfection apart from us
               [before we could join them].

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