…"But the Word of God is not chained or imprisoned!" 2Tim. 2:9
Someone asked me, “what is faith?” I think a lot of people ask that question, and I know that I’ve had that question myself, off and on during my Christian life. What do we mean when we say, “we have faith?”
Well we all have faith, but in different things. We have faith when we get into an airplane, we have faith when we get behind the wheel of an automobile, and we have faith when we sit into a chair, that the chair will hold us up and it won’t collapse on us. (I’ve had that happen, by the way.) This is faith that all of us carry every single day of our lives.
We need faith to live, and we need faith to live eternally with God. It’s how our walk with God is initiated. “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.
Is it just a leap in the dark, like so many say today? Is it just an, “I hope so”, or “I think this is the way”, statement? Not at all. God gave you a brain, use it. He doesn’t want you to check your brain at the door.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
Now there are not to many things in this world today, that you can be sure of and not to many things that you can be convinced of, but God says you can be of Him.
Chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews is the faith chapter. It goes through all of these people in the bible and talks about the faith that they had in God and what He said. You see, this is not about the great faith these people had, but it’s about the faith they had in a great God. The subject is God, and faith is the vehicle that God uses to work in our lives.
Faith in God is simply believing God is who He said He is and believing what He said. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Heb 11:6
Now that is going to take some knowledge and study to get to know Him, because how can you believe and trust what someone says if you don’t know them. That would be a leap in the dark. Would you get married to someone you just met? No, although some people do, and end up in divorce court before the year is out.
If you have stepped into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and you believe He took the penalty for yours sins on the cross, and you know enough about Him to trust Him with your eternal destiny, than why don’t you move further along in this relationship and really get to know Him so deeply and personal, that His thoughts will be your thoughts and His concerns will be your concerns.
Now I’m not talking about a robot mentality, that’s not what it is at all. Take someone who has been married for fifty, sixty, or even seventy years, they just have to look at each other and they can tell what that person is feeling, simply by a touch or a look. Wouldn’t it be so nice to know God that well. You can!
Let’s just read one example of faith from Hebrews chapter 11. Abraham.
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. He had received the promises, yet he was ready to offer up his only son. God had told him, “Through Isaac descendants will carry on your name,” and he reasoned that God could even raise him from the dead, and in a sense he received him back from there.” Hebrews 11: 17-19.
God tested Abraham’s faith in Him. (read Job 23:10, James 1:2-3, 1Peter 1:6-8). Abraham knew that God promised His seed would come through Isaac. Abraham had waited a very long time for the birth of Isaac, and now God is telling Abraham to offer Isaac on the alter. That went against everything that God said and everything that God was to Abraham, because Abraham knew God very well.
So when God asked Abraham to offer up Isaac, he didn’t flinch one single bit. It says, “he reasoned that God could even raise him from the dead“. Notice that he reasoned. He didn’t leave his brain at the door. Abraham reasons to himself, “well God said Isaac is the one, I’ve been waiting a long time for him, he just wouldn’t take him away after He promised…I guess He will just raise Isaac back from the dead.”
For all intense and purposes, Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac on the alter, so God’s word says he basically did receive him back from the dead. You can read the whole story in Genesis chapter 22.
That’s faith my friend. Do you think Abraham could have expressed such a strong faith in someone that he really didn’t know that well? To many of the people who are in our churches today, have met Jesus Christ, but they don’t know Jesus Christ.
There were many others who didn’t receive the end reward of their faith, but it didn’t diminish it at all. They still went to some horrible deaths believing God all the way. “But others were tortured, not accepting release, to obtain resurrection to a better life.” Hebrews 11: 35 It goes on to say that the world is not worthy of them.
Where is your faith today? Do you know Him? I mean, do you really know Him? Are you looking forward to seeing Him when you exit this world as if you were going to be reunited with a very good friend that you haven’t seen in a very long time.
That’s how He wants you to know Him. You can by taking time every single day in His word. He wants to talk to you, and He wants to hear from you today.
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the honor both now and on that eternal day.” 2Peter 3:18
“He has book sense, but he doesn’t have common sense.” How many of you have heard that said before? I’ve had people say that about me before, and to my shame, sometimes that has been true. This refers to people whose expertise may appear to be vast and impressive, but it’s not really useful. They are well informed in theory, but they are fools in practice.
There are many people in our churches today who are book smart when it comes to the Bible, but no application when it comes to practice. They know the truth of God’s word but their is no root or transformation in their lives. They can give you all the right answers but that truth has never penetrated their hearts or brought about real faith and repentance.
That does not mean that the truth of God’s word is ineffective . It doesn’t mean that the truth of God’s Word always will secure a sanctifying and positive result. When Moses was leading the people of Israel out of Egypt back in the book of Exodus, Pharaoh was continually confronted with the truth of God and he continually hardened his heart toward that truth. The same sun that melts the wax also hardens the clay.
In James chapters one and two talk about “faith without works is dead.” You don’t have to reject the truth to be become hardened to it. To those who hear God’s Word and don’t do it, actually become desensitized and hardened by hearing it rather than renewed and edified.
Many people have met Jesus Christ, but not many know Jesus Christ. No amount of theology or study of God’s Word can take the place of real repentance and living faith. These are the vital marks of a right relationship with God.
Many of the worlds Bible scholars see the Bible as only as an ancient piece of literature. They have a tremendous knowledge of the Bible but their hearts remain cold and unmoved by the truth.
Every Sunday churches are filled with people who have this same view. Many of them grew up in the church. They are very familiar with the truth and the Bible stories. they may not be completely cold to biblical truth, but they haven’t fully obeyed it yet either.
Many of them lead bible studies and write about it, but to them, the Bible is no more than a hobby, and they never really submit to it’s authority. Others only think about the bible on Sundays. Most of the time it sits on the corner or on a shelf, and the only time it is ever opened is in a special time of need, and then put back to collect more dust.
Knowing about God is simply not enough. Taking in all the facts apart from a true faith and repentance is no better than what James 2:19 describes about the demons. They believe and know that God exists, but they’re not going to heaven or have any kind of relationship with God at all.
To know about God is still a very important part of knowing Him. There are those who through their upbringing or bits and pieces of the bible, have put together a god of their own making. Their concept of God is just a figment of their own imagination. Many of these people are very active members of our churches today.
Some will chose a more favorable attribute of God and camp on it to the exclusion of everything else He has revealed about Himself in His Word. For example, “God is love”. If your theology starts and stops right there, you are worshiping a false god. There is so much more that you need to know about who God is; His nature and character. You just can’t cherry pick the truth.
Bottom line is, what you know about God and what you do with that knowledge touches every facet of your life.
“So Jesus said to those who believed in him, “If you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
David understood one of the essential qualities of a leader, as we see in 2 Samuel 23:3. Anyone who wants to lead well must fear the Lord. When we talk about fearing God, we are not talking about a wrong kind of fear. We are talking about the reverential fear that causes us to bow in His presence and even to prostrate ourselves before Him and say, “My God, there is none like You; Whom shall I fear? If You are for me, what can man do to me?’
The apostle Paul wrote something in Galatians 1:10, He said, “Now am I trying to win the favor of men, or of God? Do I seek to please men? If I were still seeking popularity with men, I should not be a bond servant of Christ (the Messiah).”
We know Satan firsthand uses rejection to prevent us from going forward with the call of God on our our lives. Have you ever been attacked with rejection? The devil uses this very effective tool to keep us from making progress.
How many of you have gone to the bank to get a loan for your business and were turned down? Wanted more money to expand? Wanted to hire a few more people? How many people were skeptical when you told them you were starting a business, or joining a partnership with someone, or told you all of the reasons why they failed in business and why you would too? It’s very difficult to go on when you are being rejected by someone you love and care about or others who have the power and ability to help but do not buy into your vision. I know what that feels like when you take the leap of faith and do what you believe you have been called to do. I shudder to think what I might have sacrificed had I bowed down to the pressure and the weight of rejection. Everywhere I went for help they told me no, or I didn’t qualify, but thank God I didn’t give up.
Have you ever been in a situation when the devil leveled an attack against you at the same time when God was trying to promote you into the next level of what he has for your life?
Anyone who is going to do the will of God must have more fear of God than of man. We all want acceptance and for others to support our dreams. It takes courage to live your dreams. And you have to be willing to lose everything to do it. What does that mean? The trials and storms of life will come. They must. Do you stay and fight for the dream and the desire that you believe God has placed on the inside of you, or do you turn in defeat because it’s just too hard?
Anyone who is going to do God’s will must remember what Jesus told His disciples: “A servant is not greater than his master…If they persecuted Me, they will also persecut you” (John 15:20). He was saying, “If they reject you, in effect they are rejecting Me.” I believe the Lord takes it personally when people reject you because you are trying to do the right thing. He knows how you feel about being rejected, because He felt the same thing. He is your Vindicator; your reward comes from Him, and you must reverentially fear and honor Him more than anything or anyone else.
As you have made the decision, for God I live, and for God I die, know that God is equally commited to the promise as well. Romans 8:31,32 “What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?] [Ps. 118:6]
32 He who did not withhold or spare [even] His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things?
God approved of you before anybody else ever got a chance to disapprove. Do not spend your time playing it safe in the illusion of a down economy (because millionaries are being made everyday, banks are still giving corporate execs million dollar bonuses) don’t buy into the hype! Safety is very comfortable, but it may keep you from God’s perfect plan for your life. If we want to continue to succeed in this environment, our focus must be customer focus coupled with outstanding customer service. Not because it will keep your customer and repeat business, but if you never see them again, the honor and privilege is in being in a position to serve.
Trust His Word and keep your heart willing and ready to obey. Be willing to try new things, especially if it is something you have never done before. You will find throughout your life that God regularly calls us out of our comfort zones and into new places of faith and growth in Him.
On the way to your destination, enjoy the journey.
I remember when my boys were small, and I would stand in the pool and hold my arms out, while they were standing on the side, and I would say, “jump”. They would reluctantly look at me, and hesitate….think for awhile and move closer to the edge. I often thought, “what was really going on in those little minds? Did they really think that their Father would let them fall in the water and drown? Don’t they trust me?”
I’ve often thought about that when I face a new challenge or crisis in my own life. What must my heavenly Father think about me? He knows what I’m really thinking about. He knows if I truly trust Him all the way or if I am a little hesitant. Do I step a little closer to Him and than turn back and go my own way?
I think of the verse in the book of Job. After Job had been through some real rough times, Job said of God, ” He knows the way that I take, after He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) God knows where you are today my friend. He knows what you are going through and He is right there at your side as you go through it. “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5) Remember, He will not permit you to go through more than you can handle. (1Cor. 10:13)
Who do you trust? How is trust built? I remember J. Vernon McGee telling the story of a bridge that was being built in the small town where he lived. After the bridge was completed, the engineers drove huge trucks and heavy equipment across the bridge, and someone asked why they did that? Did they think it might collapse? They said absolutely not. They were proving that it wouldn’t.
Jesus asked His disciples, ” Who do men say that I am? They answered, some say you are Elijah and some say John the baptist. He asked them, Who do you say that I am, and Peter stood and answered, You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” (Mark 8:27-29)
It was from the experience of knowing and living and walking with Jesus, that Peter could say, ” You are the Christ the son of the living God.” They could not say that at the beginning.
You and I must also walk and live and commune with the living God on a daily basis. Learning and knowing more and more through the experiences we face with Him, will enable us to know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He is the Christ, the son of the living God.
He takes us through trials and testings so that we might know, not believe, but know that He is there and that He loves us and will always take us through. We learn this from our trials and difficulties in this life.
Read (Colossians 1:9-12). The word that is used for knowledge in verse 9 means to know something from experience. Knowledge that comes from a deep intimate relationship. When you and I can gain that kind of a trust and bond with our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, we will learn trust and faith in Him because we’ve tested the bridge, and it holds us up.
How about today? God is holding out His arms to you, and He’s saying, ” come on and jump. I’ll catch you. I won’t let nothing happen to you.” Where are you? Are you standing around the edge deciding if you should go or are you going the other way? Do you trust Him? Do you really believe what He says?
Peter said at the end of his life, ” But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. (2Peter 3:18) Peter could say this from experience. He knew.
May God bless you.