Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
•• This is the Bible’s clear definition of faith.
•• Faith deals with certainty, not doubts and wavering.
•• The rest of Hebrews 11 offers some helpful insights for living our lives consistent with that all-important faith.
vs. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
•• Faith leads to understanding, not vice versa. Some people wrongly say, “I need first to understand it, then I’ll believe.” But with God, it is faith that brings understanding.
•• Faith believes in creation ex nihilo — that is, out of nothing — not the “Big Bang” theory or the unproven, often preposterous, assertions of evolution.
•• Notice also — faith sees the “big picture” and does not get bogged down in the problem of the moment.
vs. 5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.
•• Faith has unshakable confidence that God will “take us away” after this life.
• That will sustain you through many hard times.
vs. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
•• God-pleasing faith is confident in two things:
1) God exists!
2) God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
vs. 7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
•• Faith leads you to do things now before you see the desired results.
• After six years of medically diagnosed infertility, my wife felt an inner surge of faith. She bought a roomful of nursery furniture, even though she was still not pregnant. The following year that crib was occupied by our firstborn child! My wife was living and walking by faith, not by sight, and the miraculous healing followed her faith. [later edit: In subsequent years, God granted enabled her to give birth to three more children.]
vs. 8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
•• When you know God’s “call”, faith leads you to obey and go, even not knowing where that will lead you.
• In 1959 the man who later became my pastor felt called by God to plant a church in the then-remote south end of Anchorage, Alaska. Now, in the early 21st century, that now-large church is within a big population center. But in 1959, to move that far “out” from downtown, he was living by faith in God’s leading. And God honored that faith over the years.
vs. 11 By faith Abraham, even though he was past age — and Sarah herself was barren — was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise.
•• That is a key insight for living by faith — Consider Him faithful who has made the promise!
• Abraham did not stagger at the promise of God through unbelief. Rather, he considered God to be faithful. And God honored that faith in Him.
vs. 13, 16 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth....  They were longing for a better country — a heavenly one.
•• Faith looks over the horizon.
• Faith does not “command” the Lord. It obeys the Lord.
• Faith does not live for the here and now.
• Faith is strengthened by your view of eternity.
vs. 20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
•• Faith enables us to hear from the Lord about the future.
• We prophesy (and receive other revelations) according to the proportion of our faith.
vs. 22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.
•• Faith is so confident about God’s good plans (here, the future Exodus) that it leads us to make our own plans (Joseph's bones) in light of that vision of faith.
• Ponder that as you build South Valley Church. Think in terms of the continuity of God’s plans and blessings. Remember that we are following God over the “long haul”.
vs. 23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
•• Faith is not afraid of “the king’s edict.”
• Peter: we will obey God, not man (Acts 4:19).
• When you know you are following God, faith keeps you from fearing the face of man.
vss. 24-26 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.  He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.
•• It is faith that will keep you from the “pleasures of sin for a short time.”
•• It is faith in God that will keep you from becoming entangled by the “treasures of Egypt” = covetousness in this life.
vs. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
•• Faith does things that may seem weird to the world.
• the sprinkling of blood on the door frames
• finding God’s blessing in giving, not getting
• endeavoring to live a humble life, not a self-exalting one