Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
Hebrews 11 is such an encouragement to me for it reminds me that I am not alone in my striving to live by faith. And it reminds me of those who have gone before, and have lived their lives faithfully and received the reward. This "Hall of Faith" starts at creation and recounts many of the stories of the Old Testament, including Abraham and Sarah (who conceived "even beyond the proper time of life"), Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, David and Samuel - all of whom never lived to see the promised Messiah. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that these examples:
by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. Hebrews 11:33-38
These men and women all lived out their faith, and lived by faith, before God sent His Son to be the Deliverer. They knew something better was coming, and they made decisions that showed that they believed God and followed Him in obedience.
And yet, God has provided for us better things - so much beyond what they received - in Christ Jesus! As a result, our obedience of faith, patience of hope, and labor of love, should be greater.
Join me in praying that our faith would increase, that we may follow these bright examples, "and be, with them, made perfect in holiness and happiness, so that we may shine like the sun in the kingdom of our Father forevermore." (Matthew Henry)
Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6