Hebrews 11:13-16 - These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city.
Our Bible passage for today deals with a paradox—the whole "already/not yet" situation of the Christian life living by faith in this world. We know that we are already God's children, and that He forgives us our sin, gives us the Holy Spirit, helps us grow in the faith, and listens to our prayers.
But at the very same time we are painfully aware that we are not at home yet. We are God's children—but we still deal with sin and temptation, and at times we act very unlike our Father. We have the Holy Spirit, and sometimes we listen to Him—and many times we don't. We grow in our faith—but that growth is painful, slow, and sometimes completely invisible, at least to our own eyes. (Others may see it more clearly.) And we ask for what we need, but we don't always get what we pray for, and often we don't know why.
Welcome to the life of an alien, a foreigner "passing through" on the way to a different country! We live in this world "as strangers and exiles on the earth," people who just don't fit in, don't belong. Sometimes we suffer for it. It can be painful watching everyone else fitting in so easily, while we get hung up on points of right and wrong that don't seem to faze anybody else. "Everybody's doing it," our friends say, eyebrows raised, wondering why we're making such a fuss about a minor wrongdoing. But we can never forget our Lord Jesus Christ who loves us, and we can't face doing something that would make Him unhappy. Explaining that to our non-Christian friends gets us pitying looks—if not rolled eyes. We just don't belong.
God understands this, and so He encourages us through the words of the writer of Hebrews. He describes our ancestors in the faith, Abraham and Sarah and others, who didn't receive everything they were promised on earth—but looked forward to the day God would keep His promises in Jesus Christ. They were waiting for a homeland where they would be truly at home—the kingdom of God, the new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (see 2 Peter 3:13).
That is what we are waiting for too—a place where we can truly be at home, where our trust in Jesus will not be a joke to the people around us, where we can live as His people in love and innocence. It will be a better country, the place mankind was truly made to live, where we will reach the full potential God designed us for. We long for this—to come home from our exile. "Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city" (Hebrews 11:16b). And in that city we will live forever with our beloved Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and with all the other people He has used us to bring to Himself. That's something to look forward to!
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, make my heart and life more and more those of a citizen of Your country. Use me to bring others to trust in You. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Do you consider yourself a patient person? When's the last time you had to be really patient?
2. God has prepared us a city. What do you think that will be like?
3. What's your idea of heaven? Does it include everything you love here on earth?
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