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05.28.17 Faithful Remembrance Hebrews 11:1-10, 13-16 Sermon Outline

by on May 30, 2017

On Memorial Day it is appropriate to remember everyone who has sacrificed in faith for the good of others.

I’ve heard it said that Hebrews 11 is “The Hall of Fame of Faith.” In a cascade, it moves from Abel through Noah and Abraham and Sarah to countless unnamed saints. All these endured this life’s hardships and still await the fulfillment of God’s promises. Why are they still waiting? Hebrews says it’s because “they are not, apart from us, made perfect.”

In other words, their faith awaits our faith. It is now our time to be faithful, and they inspire and encourage us, the next chapter says, as a “great cloud of witnesses.” On Memorial Day, when we remember the faithfulness of others to our country, it is appropriate to remember also these faithful.

We remember Abel who was murdered by his brother Cain. His blood cried out to God from the ground, and Hebrews says he “still speaks to us through his faith.” His faith was that he offered himself to God and accepted God’s approval. May we also accept God’s approval.

We remember Enoch whose faith “pleased God” not just because he believed in the existence of God, but that God would reward him if he sought him. Later Jeremiah would promise that if we “seek God with our hearts, we will find him.” (Jeremiah 29:13) Jesus also promised his disciples that when we seek, we shall find. (Matthew 7:7) May we seek God with all our hearts.

Last Thursday morning I was working on renewing my passport. As I held it in my hand I thought about the security, safety, assurance, and pride of being a U.S. citizen. I thought about my homeland compared to other countries I’ve visited. These reflections of my “homeland” dissipated instantaneously when my phone rang and interrupted me, informing me that my wife had been in a car accident.

In that moment I had a glimpse of our true homeland which Hebrews reminds us is not of this world. Our true homeland is resting in God with all the saints, enduring faithfully through this life and through this world until we do.

It helps to remember Abraham and Sarah whose faith started with a promise and journeyed through the unknown. And even after they had arrived at what was promised them, their faith compelled them to continue seeking.

Our Christian brothers and sisters in Egypt bear testimony to this. Like Abel’s blood, this morning their faith speaks to us. They had just set out for prayer at a monastery last Friday when they were martyred and joined the list of Hebrews 11. But the reality of Egypt’s Coptic Christians is the truth of all Christians, only pushed to the extreme.

We have not arrived. Like Abraham and Sarah we are strangers and foreigners on the earth. Our homeland is beyond borders of this country. God has prepared a city for us.

So let us remember and give thanks for the faithful of Hebrews 11 and the faithful who have served the United States with their lives. And let us honor the sacrifices all these have made by keeping our sights on the heavenly home that God has prepared for all nations. And let us honor them by enduring faithfully the hardships of this life until we rest with all God’s people.

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