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Hebrews 11:1-2 (KJV) 1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
What is good news? The answer to that question depends on who you ask. More often than not there are two sides to every story, so people tend to go to news sources that highlight the narrative that they prefer to hear.
This is important to understand during this covid crisis because people are hungry to hear almost anything that makes them feel better about what is happening. However, unless you get your news from more than one source you are probably only hearing a portion of the story, and very little truth.
Knowing this, Pastor D. and I have been spending less time on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News. We have discovered SGN, which stands for (Some Good News). SGN is not a news outlet like the others I just mentioned. It is a ‘news’ show on YouTube hosted by actor John Krasinski. His wife, and many of his friends in the world of entertainment frequently join in and do what they can to help make someone’s life a little better during these tough times. John decided that we all needed to hear some good things that people are doing to help each other during this crisis. He highlights positive stories, and even personally helps people in need by doing something to cheer them up, or to make their lives better. And by the way, John does it all while in quarantine in his home.
I get a little choked up every time I see an episode and I think I have figured out why. It’s because we all have a need to know that there is light ahead of this crisis, and that not everyone is attempting to profit from the pain of others. It’s bad enough that we are dealing with a worldwide pandemic, and have been at differing levels of quarantine for months now. But what makes it worse is the way some of our leaders have dropped the ball in their feeble efforts to help us through it. So kudos to Mr. Krasinski for SGN. (Full disclosure. I received no compensation whatsoever for this endorsement. But John if you want to make a large financial donation to NCCI we would all Praise the Lord, – Amen)!
So you are probably wondering when the commercial will end and when the sermon is going to begin. I’m so glad you asked! The writer of the book of Hebrews says that the elders, or patriarchs received, and where moved into positive action from what he calls a ‘good report’.
The writer then goes on to list heroes in the Old Testament who persevered through all kinds of hardships. He gives the reason for their success in verse Heb. 11:3. They did it by faith. There are so many wonderful examples of faith listed in the chapter, but allow me to focus on one example that can help us as we go through these tough times.
Hebrews 11:30 (NIV) 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.
We find how this happened here:
Joshua 2:1 (KJV) 1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there.
We all know the story of the great victory of Jericho, but this could not have happened if people had only listened to the wrong news report. By the way this was not the first time that the nation of the Israelites could have been stymied by bad news reports.
Numbers 13:30 (KJV) 30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
Both Moses and Joshua understood that it makes good sense to have good information before you make big moves, like attacking an enemy army for example. They both sent spies into the land they were headed into to gather intelligence about what they might encounter.
There are some principles about receiving and using ‘news’ that we need to take to heart. 1) It matters where you get your information. 2) Information is more than just facts. We also most consider the commentary of reporters.
More often than not today much of our news comes from the internet. You need to know that the search engines that we use are programmed to ‘learn’ what they think you like. After a while a search engine might skip news articles because they think you may not be interested in it. (After all there are ads that they want you to see, so time is of the essence here). This is why there may be valuable information you can miss. Some TV news programs do the same thing.
Moses and Joshua understood that people can see the same thing, and have a very different view or opinion of what happened. Therefore they sent more than one spy. Get your news from more than one source so that you are informed and not influenced by it. – I’m going somewhere with this…..
We also need to know that ‘just the facts’ is not enough. Most news outlets also present commentary along with a news story. People might say they want just the facts, but facts can be boring, and they want you to watch all day. So make sure you know the difference between commentary and facts. (News is big business and billions of dollars are at stake).
Commentary is not always a bad thing, in fact both Moses and Joshua benefited from the comments of the spies. But these leaders showed us how to use commentary the right way. The last comment you are influenced by should be in alignment with the Word of God. Also : Make sure you know when someone is giving an opinion, because they don’t always tell you when they are doing it.
In Numbers everyone saw the same thing, but everyone did not report the same thing. Twelve people said that land flowed with milk and honey, meaning it was fertile, and would produce a prosperity that would more than sustain Israel. However only two of them, Joshua and Caleb said that we can and will take the land just as God said we would. They gave a faith report, facts plus commentary, that considered who their God is, and what He was able to do.
Being positive does not mean that you are denial of facts. You can be positive in a bad situation because of what you know and more importantly WHO you know. For example, a doctor can give you information that may not seem good, but make sure that your commentary and opinion considers the awesomeness of our God. We consider what the expert says, but we need commentary from God’s Word in order to get the full report.
This is why those people in Hebrews are listed in the Faith Hall of Fame. They all persevered in the face of bad reports. They mixed facts with faith,gave a good report, and so must we. Rahab, a hooker is commended for her good report in the bible, (See James 2:25). Listen to her report to the spies:
Joshua 2:9 (KJV) 9 And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.
If a good report can change the fate of a prostitute, I know that it can change all of us!
In the book of Romans chapter 8, Paul gives some very encouraging words. He is not in denial about things that can happen to us, but make it a good report by adding some faith commentary:
Romans 8:18 (NIV) 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Sure, bad things can happen but God is about to get some glory out of us!
Romans 8:28 (NIV) 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
It may not be good, but God is working FOR my good!
Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
See how that works? God’s Word is filled with both fact and faith commentary. Those scriptures are not going to read themselves. You have to go to them and be led by the Spirit to those that speak to your success. You have to make sure that you are getting your news from more than one source. Don’t just see the facts in your life, add your own commentary from the word of God.
Check out this link for more positive scriptures:
Deuteronomy 28:13 And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:
Psalms 34:1 (KJV) 1 I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Matthew 21:21-22 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
Mark 11:22-24 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Bishop Horace Ransom Jr. is the Senior Pastor and Founder of New Covenant Church International in Detroit, Michigan. He is a Jurisdictional Bishop and serves on the Board of Presbytery for the Jabula International Network, North America. Bishop Ransom is an outstanding teacher of the Word of God with a passion for challenging believers to become the best that they can be. Faith, Purpose and the Kingdom of God are frequently the subject matter of his dissertation.