Tag Archives: Bible verses

Sojourners Looking for a City

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The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living.  It’s our handle on what we can’t see.  The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd…

Abel

Enoch

Noah

By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home.  When he left he had no idea where he was going.  By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents.  Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise.  Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations- the City designed and built by God…

Abraham

Sarah

The promised son

Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing.  How did they do it?  They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world.  People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home.  If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted.  But they were after a far better country than that- Heaven country.  You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them…

Abraham and Isaac

Jacob and Esau

Joseph and his sons

Moses

The Israelites at the parting of the Red Sea and marching around the walls of Jericho

Rahab and the spies

I count go on and on, but I’ve run out of time.  There are so many more- Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets… Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves.  They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, routed alien armies.  Women received their loved ones back from the dead.  There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better:  resurrection.  Others braved abuse and whips, and yes, chains and dungeons.  We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless- the world didn’t deserve them!- making their way as best they could on the cruel edges of the world.

Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised.  God had a better plan for us:  that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.

Hebrews 11- excerpts from the Message version of the Bible.

When it looks like the Bad Guys are always winning…

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Don’t bother your head with braggarts or wish you could succeed like the wicked.

In no time they’ll shrivel like grass clippings and wilt like cut flowers in the sun. 

Get insurance with God and do a good deed,
settle down and stick to your last.
Keep company with God,
get in on the best.

Open up before God, keep nothing back; 
he’ll do whatever needs to be done: 
He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day 
and stamp you with approval at high noon. 

Quiet down before God,
be prayerful before him.
Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder,
who elbow their way to the top.

Bridle your anger, trash your wrath, cool your pipes—it only makes things worse.

Before long the crooks will be bankrupt;
God-investors will soon own the store.

Before you know it, the wicked will have had it;
you’ll stare at his once famous place and—nothing!
Down-to-earth people will move in and take over,
relishing a huge bonanza.

Bad guys have it in for the good guys,
obsessed with doing them in.
But God isn’t losing any sleep; to him
they’re a joke with no punch line.

Bullies brandish their swords,
pull back on their bows with a flourish.
They’re out to beat up on the harmless,
or mug that nice man out walking his dog.
A banana peel lands them flat on their faces—
slapstick figures in a moral circus.

Less is more and more is less.
One righteous will outclass fifty wicked,
For the wicked are moral weaklings
but the righteous are God-strong.

God keeps track of the decent folk; 
what they do won’t soon be forgotten. 
In hard times, they’ll hold their heads high; 
when the shelves are bare, they’ll be full. 

God-despisers have had it;God’s enemies are finished—
Stripped bare like vineyards at harvest time,
vanished like smoke in thin air.

Wicked borrows and never returns;

Righteous gives and gives. Generous gets it all in the end;

Stingy is cut off at the pass.

Stalwart walks in step with God;
his path blazed by God, he’s happy.
If he stumbles, he’s not down for long;
God has a grip on his hand.

I once was young, now I’m a graybeard—
not once have I seen an abandoned believer,
or his kids out roaming the streets.
Every day he’s out giving and lending,
his children making him proud.

Turn your back on evil, 
work for the good and don’t quit. 
God loves this kind of thing, 
never turns away from his friends. 

Live this way and you’ve got it made,
but bad eggs will be tossed out.
The good get planted on good land
and put down healthy roots.

Righteous chews on wisdom like a dog on a bone, rolls virtue around on his tongue.

 His heart pumps God’s Word like blood through his veins; his feet are as sure as a cat’s.

Wicked sets a watch for Righteous, he’s out for the kill. God, alert, is also on watch—

Wicked won’t hurt a hair of his head.

Wait passionately for God,
don’t leave the path.
He’ll give you your place in the sun
while you watch the wicked lose it.

I saw Wicked bloated like a toad,
croaking pretentious nonsense.
The next time I looked there was nothing—
a punctured bladder, vapid and limp.

Keep your eye on the healthy soul,
scrutinize the straight life;
There’s a future
in strenuous wholeness.
But the willful will soon be discarded;
insolent souls are on a dead-end street.

The spacious, free life is from God,
it’s also protected and safe.
God-strengthened, we’re delivered from evil—
when we run to him, he saves us.

~Psalm 37 The Message Version