Hebrews 11; Hebrews 12; Hebrews 13

1 Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being certain of what we do not see. 2 That is what the people of long ago were praised for. 3 We have faith. So we understand that everything was made when God commanded it. That's why we believe that what we see was not made out of what could be seen. 4 Abel had faith. So he offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did. Because of his faith Abel was praised as a godly man. God said good things about his offerings. Because of his faith Abel still speaks. He speaks even though he is dead. 5 Enoch had faith. So he was taken from this life. He didn't die. He just couldn't be found. God had taken him away. Before God took him, Enoch was praised as one who pleased God. 6 Without faith it isn't possible to please God. Those who come to God must believe that he exists. And they must believe that he rewards those who look to him. 7 Noah had faith. So he built an ark to save his family. He built it because of his great respect for God. God had warned him about things that could not yet be seen. Because of his faith he showed the world that it was guilty. Because of his faith he was considered right with God. 8 Abraham had faith. So he obeyed God. God called him to go to a place he would later receive as his own. So he went. He did it even though he didn't know where he was going. 9 Because of his faith he made his home in the land God had promised him. He was like an outsider in a strange country. He lived there in tents. So did Isaac and Jacob. They received the same promise he did. 10 Abraham was looking forward to the city that has foundations. He was waiting for the city that God planned and built. 11 Abraham had faith. So God made it possible for him to become a father. He became a father even though he was too old. Sarah also was too old to have children. But Abraham believed that the One who made the promise was faithful. 12 Abraham was past the time when he could have children. But many children came from that one man. They were as many as the stars in the sky. They were as many as the sand on the seashore. No one could count them. 13 All those people were still living by faith when they died. They didn't receive the things God had promised. They only saw them and welcomed them from a long way off. They openly said that they were outsiders and strangers on earth. 14 People who say things like that show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 What if they had been thinking of the country they had left? Then they could have returned to it. 16 Instead, they longed for a better country. They wanted one in heaven. So God is pleased when they call him their God. In fact, he has prepared a city for them. 17 Abraham had faith. So he offered Isaac as a sacrifice. That happened when God put him to the test. Abraham had received the promises. But he was about to offer his one and only son. 18 God had said to him, "Your family line will continue through Isaac."(Genesis 21:12) Even so, Abraham was going to offer him up. 19 Abraham believed that God could raise the dead. In a way, he did receive Isaac back from death. 20 Isaac had faith. So he blessed Jacob and Esau. He told them what was ahead for them. 21 Jacob had faith. So he blessed each of Joseph's sons. He blessed them when he was dying. Because of his faith he worshiped God as he leaned on the top of his wooden staff. 22 Joseph had faith. So he spoke to the people of Israel about their leaving Egypt. He gave directions about his bones. He did that toward the end of his life. 23 Moses' parents had faith. So they hid him for three months after he was born. They saw he was a special child. They were not afraid of the king's command. 24 Moses had faith. So he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. That happened after he had grown up. 25 He chose to be treated badly together with the people of God. He chose that instead of enjoying sin's pleasures for a short time. 26 He suffered shame because of Christ. He thought it had great value. He considered it better than the riches of Egypt. He was looking ahead to God's reward. 27 Because of his faith he left Egypt. It wasn't because he was afraid of the king's anger. He didn't let anything stop him. He saw the One who can't be seen. 28 Because of his faith he was the first to keep the Passover Feast. He commanded the people of Israel to sprinkle blood on their doorways. He did it so that the destroying angel would not touch their oldest sons. 29 The people had faith. So they passed through the Red Sea. They went through it as if it were dry land. The Egyptians tried to do it also. But they drowned. 30 The people had faith. So the walls of Jericho fell down. It happened after they had marched around the city for seven days. 31 Rahab, the prostitute, had faith. So she welcomed the spies. That's why she wasn't killed with those who didn't obey God. 32 What more can I say? I don't have time to tell about all the others. I don't have time to talk about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah. I don't have time to tell about David, Samuel and the prophets. 33 Because of their faith they took over kingdoms. They ruled fairly. They received the blessings God had promised. They shut the mouths of lions. 34 They put out great fires. They escaped being killed by the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became powerful in battle. They beat back armies from other countries. 35 Women received their dead back. The dead were raised to life again. Others were made to suffer greatly. But they refused to be set free. They did that so that after death they would be raised to a better life. 36 Some were laughed at. Some were whipped. Still others were held by chains. They were put in prison. 37 Some were killed with stones. They were sawed in two. They were put to death by the sword. They went around wearing the skins of sheep and goats. They were poor. They were attacked. They were treated badly. 38 The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains. They lived in caves. They lived in holes in the ground. 39 All of those people were praised because they had faith. But none of them received what God had promised. 40 God had planned something better for us. So they would only be made perfect together with us.
1 A huge cloud of witnesses is all around us. So let us throw off everything that stands in our way. Let us throw off any sin that holds on to us so tightly. Let us keep on running the race marked out for us. 2 Let us keep looking to Jesus. He is the author of faith. He also makes it perfect. He paid no attention to the shame of the cross. He suffered there because of the joy he was looking forward to. Then he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 He put up with attacks from sinners. So think about him. Then you won't get tired. You won't lose hope. 4 You struggle against sin. But you have not yet fought to the point of spilling your blood. 5 You have forgotten that word of hope. It speaks to you as children. It says, "My son, think of the Lord's training as important. Do not lose hope when he corrects you. 6 The Lord trains those he loves. He punishes everyone he accepts as a son." (Proverbs 3:11,12) 7 Put up with hard times. God uses them to train you. He is treating you as children. What children are not trained by their parents? 8 God trains all of his children. But what if he doesn't train you? Then you are like children of people who weren't married to each other. You are not truly God's children. 9 Besides, we have all had human parents who trained us. We respected them for it. How much more should we be trained by the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our parents trained us for a little while. They did what they thought was best. But God trains us for our good. He wants us to share in his holiness. 11 No training seems pleasant at the time. In fact, it seems painful. But later on it produces a harvest of godliness and peace. It does that for those who have been trained by it. 12 So lift your sagging arms. Strengthen your weak knees. 13 "Make level paths for your feet to walk on."(Proverbs 4:26) Then those who have trouble walking won't be disabled. Instead, they will be healed. 14 Try your best to live in peace with everyone. Try to be holy. Without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 Be sure that no one misses God's grace. See to it that a bitter plant doesn't grow up. If it does, it will cause trouble. And it will pollute many people. 16 See to it that no one commits sexual sins. See to it that no one is godless like Esau. He sold the rights to what he would receive as the oldest son. He sold them for a single meal. 17 As you know, after that he wanted to receive his father's blessing. But he was turned away. With tears he tried to get the blessing. But he couldn't get his father to change his mind. 18 You haven't come to a mountain that can be touched. You haven't come to a mountain that is burning with fire. You haven't come to darkness, gloom and storm. 19 You haven't come to a blast from God's trumpet. You haven't come to a voice speaking to you. When people heard that voice long ago, they begged it not to say anything more to them. 20 What God commanded was too much for them. He said, "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be killed with stones."(Exodus 19:12,13) 21 The sight was terrifying. Moses said, "I am trembling with fear."(Deuteronomy 9:19) 22 But you have come to Mount Zion. You have come to the Jerusalem in heaven. It is the city of the living God. You have come to a joyful gathering of angels. There are thousands and thousands of them. 23 You have come to the church of God's people. God's first and only Son is over all things. God's people share in what belongs to his Son. Their names are written in heaven. You have come to God. He is the judge of all people. You have come to the spirits of godly people who have been made perfect. 24 You have come to Jesus. He is the go-between of a new covenant. You have come to the sprinkled blood. It promises better things than the blood of Abel. 25 Be sure that you don't say no to the One who speaks. People did not escape when they said no to the One who warned them on earth. And what if we turn away from the One who warns us from heaven? How much less will we escape! 26 At that time his voice shook the earth. But now he has promised, "Once more I will shake the earth. I will also shake the heavens."(Haggai 2:6) 27 The words "once more" point out that what can be shaken can be taken away. I'm talking about created things. Then what can't be shaken will remain. 28 We are receiving a kingdom that can't be shaken. So let us be thankful. Then we can worship God in a way that pleases him. We will worship him with deep respect and wonder. 29 Our "God is like a fire that burns everything up."(Deuteronomy 4:24)
1 Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. 2 Don't forget to welcome strangers. By doing that, some people have welcomed angels without knowing it. 3 Remember those in prison as if you were in prison with them. And remember those who are treated badly as if you yourselves were suffering. 4 All of you should honor marriage. You should keep the marriage bed pure. God will judge the person who commits adultery. He will judge everyone who commits sexual sins. 5 Don't be controlled by love for money. Be happy with what you have. God has said, "I will never leave you. I will never desert you." (Deuteronomy 31:6) 6 So we can say boldly, "The Lord helps me. I will not be afraid. What can a mere man do to me?" (Psalm 118:6,7) 7 Remember your leaders. They spoke God's word to you. Think about the results of their way of life. Copy their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Don't be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good that God's grace makes our hearts strong. Don't depend on foods the Law requires. They have no value for the people who eat them. 10 Some worship at the holy tent. But we have an altar that they have no right to eat from. 11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Room. He brings their blood as a sin offering. But the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 Jesus also suffered outside the city gate. He suffered to make the people holy by spilling his own blood. 13 So let us go to him outside the camp. Let us be willing to suffer the shame he suffered. 14 Here we do not have a city that lasts. But we are looking for the city that is going to come. 15 So let us never stop offering to God our praise through Jesus. Let us offer it as the fruit of lips that say they believe in him. 16 Don't forget to do good. Don't forget to share with others. God is pleased with those kinds of offerings. 17 Obey your leaders. Put yourselves under their authority. They keep watch over you. They know they are accountable to God for everything they do. Obey them so that their work will be a joy. If you make their work a heavy load, it won't do you any good. 18 Pray for us. We feel sure we have done what is right. We long to live as we should in every way. 19 I beg you to pray that I may return to you soon. 20 Our Lord Jesus is the great Shepherd of the sheep. The God who gives peace brought him back from the dead. He did it because of the blood of the eternal covenant. May God 21 supply you with everything good. Then you can do what he wants. May he do in us what is pleasing to him. We can do it only with the help of Jesus Christ. Give him glory for ever and ever. Amen. 22 Brothers and sisters, I beg you to accept my word. It tells you to be faithful. I have written you only a short letter. 23 I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been set free. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you. 24 Greet all of your leaders. Greet all of God's people. The believers from Italy send you their greetings. 25 May grace be with you all.
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